Recently, I was pondering some of the adverse consequences I still face from choices made as a teenager. At that time I thought I was invincible and that youth would last forever. While many of my past injuries and issues have been overcome through positive changes and a healthy lifestyle, some of the scars still remain. They have, however, helped to shape my identity and remind me from where God brought me and what He has done for me.
Since giving my life to Christ at the age of 18, countless blessings have resulted from the positive choices I have made.
Never forget, the choices made during one’s youth – and the consequences of those choices – can last a lifetime or even an eternity. The decision you make concerning Jesus Christ – to accept, reject or just ignore Him – and whether to honor or dishonor His Word will result in blessings or consequences that will last an eternity. So make wise choices.
The amazement of God is manifest through the birth of a child.
The love of God is understood while holding a grandchild in your arms.
The wonder of God is displayed in the majestic movements of a butterfly.
The creativity of God is revealed by the diversity of His creation.
The splendor of God is visible with the vastness of the universe.
The ingenuity of God is shown in the complexity of the DNA.
The hope of God is offered through a Baby in a manger.
The grace of God is realized through a blood stained cross.
The joy of God is obtained through the new birth.
The peace of God is achieved by trusting in Him.
The awesomeness of God will be displayed at the second coming of Jesus Christ.
The kindness and goodness of God will be lavished throughout eternity on those who know and love Him.
o o o o o o o o
If parents and grandparents have a love for their children and grandchildren that is beyond comprehension or explanation, how much more is the depth of love our Creator has for each of us. No wonder Jesus gave His life to redeem us.
My 11 year old daughter asked me a question that I am sure all of us have asked at some point in our lives, “Why does God allow bad things to happen to us?” In thinking of how best to answer this question and make sense to an 11 year old, I recalled the story of the “Wolfpack” kids.
These kids were members of the Angulo family. They lived in a small apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The six sons and one daughter were home-schooled by their mother Susanne, and except for rare occasions they were not allowed to the leave their apartment. Their father, Oscar, was a Peruvian immigrant and he felt New York would “contaminate” his children. In order to protect them from the dangers outside their apartment, he not only kept the door locked, but he possessed the only key to unlock it. In this environment, the father had complete control over their lives, and as the mother stated in an interview, “I felt like I didn’t have control over my choices.” Their father may have created an environment to protect them from danger, but in the process he deprived them of their freedom.
While God is sovereign, He permits human freedom. Thus, He did not create us like puppets, controlling our every move and decision. Nor did he place us in an environment where, like a tyrannical dictator, we were compelled to honor Him. Instead, as we see in the Garden of Eden, He created mankind with the freedom to choose whether to obey or disobey Him (Genesis 3). With the potential of choice came the consequences of choice. As we find in Genesis, Adam and Eve chose to disobey, and with their choice (sin) came the consequences: pain, suffering and death (Romans 5:12; 6:23).
Adam and Eve
At this point, you may be asking the same question my daughter did, “How is it fair for us to be punished for the sins of Adam and Eve?” While it is true that we are all subject to the consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin through birth, we are all still as guilty as they are, for each of us has also used our freedom to disobey God’s commands. In other words, each of us is accountable for our own sin (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8). Yet, despite our consistent abuse of the freedom God has given us, He still chooses to be a Father that extends mercy and grace to those who ask for it (John 3:16-17; Romans 6:23).
Why Does God Allow Bad Things To Happen?
The first time I asked this question there was a family which was very close to mine. Their daughter at the age of 13 was diagnosed with cancer. Within a year of her diagnosis she passed away. I found myself asking that very question, “Why?”
If it is true that God is all knowing, then certainly He knows how to prevent this girl from getting cancer. If it is also true that God is all powerful then He should be able to prevent her from getting cancer. And if it is true that God is all loving then He would want to prevent her from getting cancer and dying. Yet, this young girl in the prime of her life, died. Why?
A neighbor wanted to know why her husband of 45 years had to die of cancer and a friend wanted to know why his wife no longer loved him and was leaving him for another man. This very question probably pervades the thinking of every person who has been affected by a natural disaster such as hurricane Sandy.
With a heavy heart I watched the news and witnessed the devastation left by hurricane Sandy several years ago. I was grateful the damage in our area was not as bad as anticipated, but it was hard to see the many people who lost their homes and businesses. A friend of mine called to ask for prayer as their house suffered significant water damage from the storm.
Seeing the images of flooded neighborhoods, burning houses and people without electricity, a particular story stuck in my mind: During the storm, two young boys were killed when a large tree fell into their living room. I instantly thought of my own son and wondered how these families would cope with the loss of their sons.
I wondered why these boys had to die this way. My feelings at that moment were the same way as when I woke up on the morning of July 20, 2012. After going through my morning routine and following breakfast, I turned on the television to check the weather for the day; only then did I learn of the tragic shooting in a Colorado movie theatre. I am sure many of you had the same initial reaction I did, “How could someone do this?” This question (repeatedly asked through every tragedy) leads to other questions, which ultimately leads us to ask: “Why does God allow bad things to happen?”
It is not always possible to give a satisfactory answer for the Why question. But I can point them to the Who! By pointing them to Jesus Christ, I know from personal experience that even in the uncertainty of pain and suffering, we have hope. Several years ago my family faced the painful ordeal of a miscarriage. As I walked with my wife and children through this, the only thing we could hold onto was the hope we have in Jesus Christ.
I shared this hope with a friend of mine who was dying with cancer. When he was healthy, he and his wife did a lot of traveling. I asked him where was his favorite place, and he began to tell me all about Aruba and how beautiful it was; how nice the people were. As he described the beauty of Aruba, it was like he was back there sitting on the beach watching the waves.
A few days later in the hospital I reminded him of our conversation about Aruba, which instantly brought a smile to his face. I began to share with him of a place God had prepared for him that was so much greater than Aruba. I told him about how much God loved Him and how He demonstrated this love by sacrificing His life so that he can go to this place for eternity.
The Heart of Christianity
Like my 11 year old daughter and myself, we may not fully understand in this life why bad things and tragedies happen or why God did not prevent that tree from falling on the house that killed those two young boys. Yet, we can be assured of the depth of His love for us. We can be certain that in the midst of life’s difficulties He is with us – a God who responded to evil, pain and suffering by sending His only Son to die on a cross, offering us the opportunity to live in eternity with Him. We can know the love of a Father Who desires to provide His children not only true freedom, but also eternal blessings. This is the heart of Christianity, and it’s the best explanation of hope to a world full of pain and suffering.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away… And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:1-4).
Parents, I have an important message for you so pay close attention. You teach your children sports, help them with school work and many other things that can have a lifetime benefit. But do you teach them about the most important journey they will take or the most amazing adventure they will experience – eternity? Eternity lasts forever!
As a youth and on through my life, I have lost many family members, friends and acquaintances to eternity – many of whom were taken unexpectedly and were not prepared.
I had a vivid dream one night several months ago of two friends from my past standing with me on a small boat a little offshore. It was twilight and before us lay a vast, dark ocean. I said to my friends as we sailed into the darkness and infinite unknowns of eternity, “Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior so you are prepared for what lies ahead.” But they seemed indifferent as we headed toward certain demise. Then I woke up.
Parents, don’t be indifferent. Teach your children valuable lessons for this life, but do not neglect to teach them about what is most important and lasts forever – eternity!
This past Sunday, Bill and Karen Rudge were returning from Michigan where they had delivered a carload of books to Christian Resources International. As they reached Toledo, a fast-moving thunderstorm overtook their vehicle and did not subside for the remaining four hours of the trip. The torrential rain, high winds, and thunder and lightning made the driving very difficult. In addition, their visibility was impaired by the fog and commercial trucks on either side of the small Mitsubishi splashing huge amounts of water on their windshield. In several cities that they traveled through, their radio warned of tornadoes and flash flooding. While Karen wanted Bill to stop because of the storm, he chose to look at the drive as another adventure that God was taking them through.
The decision to keep pressing on despite the weather and treacherous driving conditions can be compared to our Christian walk. Sometimes life throws us unexpected situations that can either stop us in our tracks or make us determined to press on towards the goal. Our choice to walk by faith and not by sight will strengthen our faith and trust in the One Who watches over us and takes care of us.
In this life journey, we will have many decisions to make. As an example, Bill had stopped at a Service Center so Karen could get something to eat. After they left, the low gas warning light came on. Bill realized that he had been right beside a gas station but thought he had enough gas to get home. The next 20 miles were extremely stressful before he reached the next station. How similar this is to persons who have heard the message of salvation but paid no attention to it thinking that they had plenty of time to make a decision about eternity. We all don’t get second chances.