Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear, say to the cities of Judah,‘Here is your God!’ 11 He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.
When Bad Things Happen to Good People
It “happens” – in the full knowledge and providence of God who is aware when even a sparrow falls (Matt. 10:29). It’s difficult to imagine that anyone reading this cannot remember such an event. Life and Scripture is replete with such stories. Some have a happy ending and an explanation, as was the case with Joseph’s sale into slavery by his half-brothers (Gen. 37:27, 45:5), and as was the case of the boy who was born blind (John 9:1,3,7). Others end with the bad guys seemingly winning. A case in point is the demise of John the Baptist (Matt. 14:10). The apostle Paul lived from crisis to crisis (II Cor. 11:23-27), and many of the faithful have ended up in painful and fatal circumstances (Hebrews 11:35-37).
The dilemma of evil apparently triumphing over good is a perplexing problem for believers in a benevolent God that has engaged Christian thinkers for millennia. One encouragement is implied in the passage that includes the oft quoted and beloved verse, “. . . all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28).” (The irony is that the evil that befalls seems to fly in the face of this statement.) The passage is about the future and the bigger picture. We are “waiting . . .”, v.23; “saved by hope . . .”, v.24; and secure in our future, v.39. We are not only secure, but confident that the trials and even suffering that is endured in this short life will somehow be positively reflected in the life to come (II Cor. 4:17).
Note also, that we are part of something bigger: “All things work together (for your good) . . .” This is an astounding thought – “. . . all things . . .”. It can comfort you even when the bad, which is temporary, seems to win. In Jesus, you prevail. The race for most of us is a marathon, not a sprint.
During Advent, we can remember that when God sends us up into the mountains, he will also feed us, his flock, like a shepherd. Let us lift up our voices without fear.
Contributed by Kent Davis