- Keith Harris
It was a usual day in many respects. His hired-hands were out performing their regular tasks, and his children had gathered for a celebration. They were unaware that a great windstorm was barreling down on the house. When the massive gust slammed into the house, the walls gave way, collapsing on the party, crushing and killing all ten siblings instantly. When he heard the news of this terrible tragedy, he fell to the ground. It’s difficult for us to imagine the grief that this father was experiencing, but to increase the anguish of the moment, he was struck with a debilitating illness. The pain was unbearable…loathsome. Heartache and pain, sickness and tragedy are sadly part of real life experiences. Job was a man who saw more than his fair share of sorrow.
Often, our experiences are not altogether unlike Job’s. We face struggles. We suffer loss. We endure hardship after hardship. This life is filled with battles we must face, and many people reach a point where they want to give up. They are left asking the age old question, “Why? Why is all this happening to me? Why me?” Job asked “why” many times. He says, “Why did I not die at birth?” (Job 3:11). And, “Why was I not as a hidden stillborn child, as infants who never see the light?” (Job 3:16). He wonders what God is doing in his life and says, “Why have you made me your target? Have I become a burden to you?” (Job 7:20). Job explains his current situation this way, “For the thing that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me. I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest, but trouble comes.” (Job 3:25-26). I’m sure most of us have been in that place before, where we felt that maybe God had put a target on our back.
You may have experienced something that made you feel somehow singled out. Maybe you felt that God must be punishing you for some reason. Why else would this be happening to you? If you’ve ever felt that way, you’re not alone. We all go through times in life that leave us asking, “Why, God? Why me?” Most of us believe, at least on some level, that we don’t need to understand everything. We just need to know why. When we don't know why, we may feel God has betrayed us in some way. In reality, it's not God who is confusing us or betraying us, it is our belief system. We say, “God is in control”, and indeed he is. But that doesn’t mean that God is the cause of everything. That statement – that God is in control – can often leave us thinking, either consciously or subconsciously, that God has brought whatever hardship we’re facing. The truth is, God created humanity in his own image. We all have the imago dei within us.
But sin entered the world through deception and a decision, and that image has been distorted.
Hardship and suffering are a part of this world, because sin separated humanity from the perfection of Eden’s paradise. And so we find ourselves struggling through life, searching and reaching for deliverance and redemption.
The Apostle Paul offers some encouraging words in Romans 5. “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…” (Romans 5:12). “But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:15-17). “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:18-19). So sin entered the world, and we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. But God, because of his great love for us, has provided hope for us all.
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly…God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8). “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God knows our desperate need…our need for redemption. And he has provided a way for us.
Sam grew up attending church, mainly because he had to. His dad was the preacher of their small town church. Sam responded to the Gospel as a teenager, but he never seemed to fully commit his life to Christ. After high school, he found himself getting into all kinds of trouble.
Poor decision after poor decision finally landed him in prison, where he was sentenced to ten years. Sam never really asked why. I suppose he knew that sometimes it’s like what Walter the dog says, “If you're on a short leash, you probably bit off the rest to make it that way yourself.” But that time had a profound impact on his life. He became increasingly more aware of what God had done for him, and he can hardly believe it. He said he often wonders how God could’ve done that for him, for someone who has done what he had done. And what’s more, he wondered why God loved someone like him.
God, in the greatest demonstration of his love, allowed his son to take on my sin, to stand in my place, to serve as my substitute. Why, God? Why me? That mocking was my mocking. That beating was my beating. Those nails were my nails. That cross was my cross. Why, God? Why did you do that for me? Why me? Thanks be to God, because Jesus Christ died and rose again, I’m free! Because he lives, I’ve been made new!