God gets a pretty bad rap for all the disasters and tragedies happening in the world and in our lives.
You see it when you take out insurance on anything – insurance companies don’t cover “acts of God”, listing a whole gamut of natural disasters and catastrophes ranging from floods to earthquakes to just about anything arguably unforeseen that man has no part of.
You see it even in churches – at funerals, where ministers solemnly declare, “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away; Blessed be the name of the Lord”, quoting Job, the man who lost everything he possessed and all his children in a single day (Job 1:13-21).
A lot of people think that because God is God, omnipotent as He is, He must be responsible for both the good and the bad. But how can we believe that and still say God is a good God, a God whose very nature is love and grace? It just doesn’t make sense.
The simplest and most sound theology is perhaps best summed up in this statement made popular by pastors like Joel Osteen: “God is good, all the time; all the time, God is good”.
Some people argue that there isn’t a verse that says exactly this in the Bible. Well, God didn’t just put one verse to tell us this in the Bible – He put many. In fact, God clearly shows us His goodness, love and grace woven throughout the entire Bible.
Again and again in the psalms and the books of history we see this refrain: “Praise the Lord, for He is good, and His mercy endures forever!” And the psalmist reiterates that the Lord is not just good, but is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works (Psalm 145:9, emphasis mine).
The prophet Jeremiah said this of the Lord: “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him” (Lamentations 3:25). Even in the Pentateuch (the first 5 books of the Bible) God proclaims of Himself: “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth” (Exodus 34:6).
Jesus Himself said, “No one is good but One, that is, God” (Mark 10:18, Luke 18:19). And we know that every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17, emphasis mine). There you have it – God is good, all the time.
In the Old Testament, we see God’s goodness and grace time and again even amidst the judgement that came as a result of man’s wickedness.
It was God who first killed to clothe Adam and Eve with animal skins, so they could be spared from death through the atonement of a blood sacrifice.
It was God who preserved Noah and his family in the ark to enable the earth to be repopulated from an uncorrupted human stock.
It was God who sent angels to rescue Lot and his family out of Sodom and Gomorrah even though the whole city was doomed to be destroyed.
It was God who provided a way of atonement through sacrifices the moment Israel asked to live under the law.
It was God who raised up judges, kings and prophets to deliver, preserve, and help His people Israel.
God is not a God who delights in judgement. Though He executes justice, He is a God who delights in mercy, and who counts anger and wrath His strange work and alien task (Micah 7:18, Isaiah 28:21).
You may say, Still, but God punished the wicked and put judgement on them nonetheless. Yes, but that was before the cross, where people lived under the law, the system of getting blessed when they did right, and getting punished and cursed when they did wrong.
The truest picture of God came in the form of His Son, Jesus. God sent Jesus not to abolish the law out of pity for man, but to fulfil it righteously to the full out of grace and love for man, so that whoever receives this truth receives all of God’s blessings by unmerited favour – that is, grace – through faith.
Jesus went about doing good, healing ALL who were sick and oppressed by the devil. No one ever became sick or stayed sick, died or stayed dead in the presence of Jesus. And Jesus emphasised more than once, that anyone who had seen Him had seen God the Father, because He and His Father are One. God is full of grace and love, just as Jesus is full of grace and love.
God is NOT behind tragedies, disasters, catastrophes, loss, or anything that causes us grief or sorrow. He will never bring diseases or accidents upon His people – believers who make up the church of Jesus Christ – to chasten them or teach them something today.
So if God is not the one behind our troubles, who is? Why, the devil, of course. And sometimes, we ourselves, through our own bad choices.
Tragedies, sickness, and death are all from the devil. The devil is not a character of myth or legend or a figment of imagination from some horror story. He was the one who deceived Adam and Eve to eat of the forbidden tree, and ever since man listened to the devil in doing so, all authority and power that was given to man through Adam was effectively handed over to the devil, who wields the power of death and destruction in the world today.
Even in the case of Job, it was the devil who was behind Job’s losses, not God (read Job 1 carefully). Job had opened up a gap for the devil to come in and attack him, as a result of his constant fear and sin-consciousness regarding his sons.
Why is this important? In Hebrew, the devil’s name is Ha-Satan, meaning ‘the accuser’. The Bible calls him ‘the accuser of the brethren’. He is that voice that constantly nags at you and tells you that you’ve not done enough or that you’re not good enough, the voice that goads your conscience to beat yourself up.
By keeping you in fear, sin-consciousness and self-condemnation, the devil subtly makes you quietly accept the curses, sickness, lack, and loss he brings into your life, making you think that you deserve it, or that you probably did something to deserve it, or that God must not be pleased with you enough.
And being that champion deceiver that he is, he even makes you think that God is behind your troubles and sorrows. As long as it keeps you from God, he wins; it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.
As an ‘accuser’, the devil is a master prosecutor at law, always using the law as his choice weapon to whack us. Thankfully, we have an even better lawyer and advocate on our side: Jesus.
He who wrote the law, who brought the law back to its pristine standard in His sermon on the Mount, and who fulfilled it at that standard on our behalf in grace and love, rendered it powerless to accuse us who believe when He stretched out His hands in love and nailed it to the cross (Colossians 2:14-15).
When we know God is not behind our troubles, griefs, and sorrows, we no longer draw away from or shun Him in times of distress, but rather run to Him confidently and straightaway knowing that He is our strong refuge, and He weeps with us.
Don’t be deceived by the devil any longer. Run to God, and run to grace in the person of Jesus.
No matter what troubles you are facing, what sorrows you are going through, what mistakes you may have made, what regrets you may be holding on to, let Jesus take care of them for you, as He dearly wants to. He will surely not condemn you, but will surely bring comfort, healing, and restoration to you.
Because when you encounter Jesus, you encounter grace.