This is from Greg Laurie, a few blogs ago I posted that he just lost his son in a car accident, so he knows about suffering....and I thought many of you could benefit from the message...I did.
I have a little granddaughter named Stella, and she's the apple of my eye. Not long ago she was over at our house with her mom and dad, and my wife and I were playing some little games with her—or, as much of a game as you can play with an eight-month-old baby. One of her toys played a little song, and Stella was kind of bopping to the beat (amazing child!).
As she was moving around, every few beats she would turn over and reach out her hand to me, and wait for me to grab it. After we touched hands, she would turn around a few more times and do it again...reaching her hand out to me. She did this about eight or nine times. And I loved it. I could have played that little game all day long. It was so cute, and it was just her little idea. She wouldn't stop reaching until I grabbed her tiny hand.
Now think about it. Stella didn't play that little game with me because I forced her to. She did it because I'm the greatest grandfather that ever was! (She doesn't know this yet, but she will.) This was something that came from her own will. She wanted to play a game and reach out her hand to me.
It's the same in our relationship with God. He doesn't want you relate to Him and talk to Him and love Him because you have to. He wants you to do it because you choose to. He gave you that ability.
In the Garden, Adam and Eve used that independent will to make a wrong choice. So do we. And so much of the evil in the world and the wrongs that are done are made by people who simply make wrong choices...one after another.
"Okay," you reply, "I can accept that. But why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? And more to the point, why does God allow bad things to happen to godly people?"
I'm glad you asked. Because that brings us to one of the greatest—and most tragic—stories in all the Bible. The book of Job is in God's Word for a reason—actually many reasons. But one of the principal things this book does is to help us think through this whole issue of the goodness of God, and how it touches a world and a human race under the curse of sin.
Most of us can accept the idea of suffering in general, especially as an outcome or consequence of bad behavior. In other words, if someone lives a reckless, wicked life, committing horrible atrocities, and faces the repercussions of those deeds, we say, "They got what they deserved. It was poetic justice. They reaped what they sowed, and it finally caught up to them."
We can accept the idea of suffering in circumstances like those. But how does it strike us when an innocent and godly person suffers?
That was the case with Job, a man who not only avoided doing wrong, but also worked very hard to do what was right. So much so, in fact, that God actually bragged on his righteousness and integrity before the hosts of heaven.
That was right before the bottom dropped out of Job's life, and everything changed. Maybe you've heard people talk about "the patience of Job." In the next few days, we're going to see exactly what that statement means.