Dear NextGen Family
A blessed Easter Season to you. He is Risen indeed. Our hope rests in our resurrected Savior! We look forward to seeing you in that world called virtual on the 27th for three days.
A longtime personal friend and partner with the NextGen, Daniel Fender, writes with insight about the mystery of God’s ways in the tumultuous affairs of man. He’s the teaching pastor at Southwest Hills Baptist Church near Portland, OR.
Those who’ve joined our gatherings know his love and zeal for Jesus are simply contagious. Enjoy the article and we’ll see you soon.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led many to ask again the age-old question about suffering and how and why God allows it. Making sense of suffering in the world is difficult. Making sense of suffering without the light of God’s Word is impossible. Understanding God’s Word without prayer is impossible. We need both.
Yet, add to all of this the fact that we do not always know how to pray (Rom. 8:26). But that does not mean we should not pray. We do not always understand the way of God, but that does not mean we should not meditate on God’s ways. We do not always understand the Scripture, but that does not mean we should give up studying it.
Though we may not be able to know for sure exactly why God is doing this or that, we should still try to understand. Imagine a group of grumbling Galileans as they considered why they were being registered as part of the Roman World during the days of Caesar Augustus. One of the most obvious reasons, in those days, was to have Caesar accurately tax his whole domain. One of the least obvious reasons that God had up his sleeve, was to move a poor wedded couple from Galilee to Bethlehem in order to do what God does–quietly fulfill his long-promised Word! We know He has his reasons, even if we do not know exactly what they are.
Yet I think reasons are helpful even if narrowed to a few possibilities. I like the conclusion in Job about why the winter storm has come and shut everything down and shut everyone in. No one could go anywhere. This included “the beasts in their lairs” and “the hand of every man” in order “that all men whom He made may know it.” What did God want them to know? “Whether for correction or for his land or for love, He causes it to happen” (Job 37:13 … all Job 37:1-13 as well). God may have sent the storm in order to correct humanity or his children. God may have sent the storm in order to care for and maintain the earth. God may have sent the storm to express his love for people. It may even be a mixture of all three. It probably is.
Though we do not know the exact reason, yet knowing that He knows is knowledge enough. And knowing that He is good makes us happy that He is God.
We do not always know how to pray but the only way we can pray is with the Word of God giving us the mind of Christ through the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit! My hope and prayer for you is that the Word of God and prayer ignite a fire in your soul that no suffering or solitude can quench.