Wednesday, April 16, 2014

When Bad Things Happen to People

Bad things happen all the time. Sickness, death of a loved one, stubbed toes, earthquakes, paper cuts . . . there are a million bad things that can happen. How do we respond when those happen, not to us, but to someone else? I think most Christians are familiar with the command in Romans 12 to weep with those who weep. We are probably all familiar with the good Samaritan from Luke 10. Jesus taught us there to do all we can and exhaust all our resources for a stranger in need of help. Proverbs 24:17 says, "Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice." It is tempting enough to snicker and laugh at our friends when they fall (in fact, I used to know a couple who would go to the icy quad at their school just to laugh at the students slipping on the ice!); how much more tempting is it though, when that guy who just cut you off has to slam on his breaks because of unexpected traffic? The next verse says, "or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn His wrath away from him." We think we are the arbiters of justice, but really, all vengeance belongs to God, and we shouldn't rejoice in another's sufferings, even when they are deserved. God shows His love and care for us His children by exacting vengeance for wrongs done to us, but He does not want us to rejoice when we see His wrath falling on our enemies, even when it is a sign and proof of His love for us. How, then are we to respond to suffering? "If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you." (Pro. 25:21,22.) Pro. 11:23 says that the desire of the righteous ends only in good. Other translations say the righteous plan good. We are to hope and pray for good, even for those who hurt us and inconvenience us and bring all kinds of trouble into our lives.

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