As I write these words, there is war in the Middle East. America is at war with Islamic extremist terrorists, Israel has been bombing Lebanon, Hezbollah Arabs have been sending rockets into Israel. In other words, things aren’t that much different than for many years.
False religions grip many millions of people, even whole nations. False teachers abound in the visible Christian church world. Violence and other crimes rise and fall in the statistics, but they never go away.
I am big on the love and grace of God. He loves us unconditionally, he has forgiven us of our sins, past present and future. He has made us a new creation, dead to sin and alive to God. He has given us all spiritual blessings in Christ. He gives us the fruit of His Spirit, love, joy, peace, and so on. He even blesses the unbelievers in many ways, causing the rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
Life in Christ is so blessed in so many ways, we might be tempted to think that bad things shouldn’t happen. We might be tempted to pray, “Lord, why all these bad things? Why war? Why bloodshed? Why all this evil? Lord please take it all away. Don’t let any bad things happen any more, please.”
But we know that is not to be, don’t we?
I want to cite a series of verses, not for the specific content of the verses, but just to ask you to do one thing. As I read these verses, I’d like to ask you to look for the word "MUST". As you look for the word "MUST" in these verses, I hope some light is shed on our topic today, and I hope some light is shed on our amazing Lord, and His ways. Look for the word "MUST" in these verses:
Matthew 16:21 From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He MUST go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.
Matthew 24:6 "You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things MUST take place, but that is not yet the end.
Matthew 26:54 "How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it MUST happen this way?"
Mark 8:31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man MUST suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
Luke 17:25 "But first He MUST suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.
Revelation 4:1 After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, "Come up here, and I will show you what MUST take place after these things."
O.K., you may be asking, “What’s your point, Terry?”
1. God’s ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are greater than our thoughts. We wouldn’t do things the way He does, necessarily.
Isaiah 55:9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.
2. God has a plan, and His plan is good, but... His plan includes bad. In a fallen world, there will be the evil results of fallen man, but God uses that evil for good. As Joseph said to his brothers in Gen. 50:20, “you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good”.
Few things will cause us to worship God in heaven for eternity, more than the full realization of how He turned bad to good.
These things MUST be.
3. God is sovereign in all things.
Psalms 115:3 But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.
4. God works all things for good to His children.
Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
What’s the application? As the question goes, “How shall we then live?”
1. If God puts on your heart to pray against some evil, by all means pray. I’m not advocating that we just not care. And sometimes, as James reminds us, we have not because we ask not.
2. We can have peace that passes understanding.
Peace is a fruit of the spirit. And after we've prayed, we need to leave the results to God, and not be anxious.
Phil 4:6,7, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
3. We can praise God for His great plan, and His awesome ability to take bad, and use it for good. We can honor the Lord for His sovereignty, instead of grumbling and complaining in it. Whether it’s the geo-politics of war, or some false teaching or apostasy, or even today’s weather report, let’s rejoice that God is in control. When we pray for our thorn in the flesh to be taken away, if it isn’t, His grace is still sufficient.
These things must be. But only for now.