For the week of February 4, 2012 / 11 Shevat 5772
Torah: Shemot / Exodus 13:17 - 17:16
Haftarah: Shoftim / Judges 4:4 - 5:31


When Bad Things Happen to
God's People

When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the LORD. They said to Moses, "Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: 'Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians'? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness." (Shemot / Exodus 14:10-12; ESV)

Life can be difficult at times. Circumstances have their way of throwing all sorts of unexpected obstacles in our path. We may find ourselves climbing the ladder of success only to find ourselves at the dizzying height of the top of the wrong wall. Our mistakes, intentional or not, can hurl us to unanticipated and undesirable depths. Disappointments zap our energy away, at times to the point of despair, and we wonder if it will ever be worth trying again.

There is a startling statement found in the New Covenant writings that goes like this: "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" (Romans 8:28, New American Standard Bible). This statement actually claims that there are some people in the world for whom God causes "all things to work together for good." Whatever your take on the Bible is, stick with me for a second. Do you see what this is saying! The Master of the Universe purposely ensures, for people who love him - the "called" part is not adding an extra category of person, but rather is simply describing one of the aspects of a person who loves God in that they are called according to his purpose - God ensures for these people the eventual positive outcome of every circumstance of life.

This is not to say that every circumstance of life is good. There is nothing here about making light of life's hardships nor is there any encouragement to play psychological games with reality. Bad things do happen to those who love God. But step back and look at the big picture: the end result of everything that happens to these people is good. You may have heard the saying, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade, but this is better than that. It's not up to us to make the lemonade. God is the lemonade maker. Everything that happens to those who love God are like ingredients in his hands for eventual good.

Before we go further, this statement does not apply to everyone. This grand statement is designed to help those who have been made right with God through faith in the Messiah of Israel to engage life as we should. Those whose hearts are turned away from the Messiah have no such guarantee, but you can make that change right now.

Whether you just now decided to give your life over to Yeshua the Messiah or you have walked with him for years you can be certain that God is out for your good irrespective of whatever you may be going through right now.

We must be careful not to judge our circumstances wrongly. While some of the bad things that happen to us are our own fault, that doesn't nullify God's guarantee of eventual good. God himself will often lead us right into difficult situations just like the people of Israel when they faced the Red Sea with the Egyptian army on their tail. They wrongly interpreted their circumstances to mean that God was out to get them. They couldn't see that they were on the brink of one of the most amazing things that has ever happened in history (if you don't know the story, go read it for yourself later).

We shouldn't play down how difficult it must have been for the people of Israel to keep a positive perspective in the midst of such an impossible situation. But that's the point. God wants us to trust him even when everything around us seems to be horrible with no way out. If Messiah was raised from the dead, then there is no situation in which his people may find themselves that cannot eventually result in our good. I think realizing that would make a big difference in our lives.

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