Sometimes, life just plain stinks.
Last week, my orthopedic surgeon informed me that I need a total hip replacement.
Yesterday, I lost my job.
My immediate reaction to both issues was to get angry, then depressed. And honestly, I’m still more than a little upset.
How should I, as a follower of Jesus Christ, respond when bad stuff happens?
First, it’s important to understand why evil exists.
God created this world sinless and perfect. There was no death, no illness, no unemployment, and no sin. There was no anger, no depression, and no crap to deal with. It was a perfect world.
Until Adam sinned.
17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:
“Cursed is the ground for your sake;
In toil you shall eat of it
All the days of your life.
18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,
And you shall eat the herb of the field.
19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:17-19)
12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. (Romans 5:12-15)
All of the sin, death, illness, anger, natural disasters, depression, other problems, and other evils are a direct consequence of Adam’s sin. Adam’s sin changed the perfect world that God designed, and polluted it.
However, we can’t blame it all on Adam. Our sin has added to the problem.
Sometimes, bad stuff happens as a direct result of our own sin. We make bad choices that lead to bad consequences.
But sometimes, bad stuff happens, and it has nothing to do with anything we personally did; it’s a result of the sin in the world. It can be the result of demonic activity, and it can also be the result of God’s judgement for the sin of society. Evil can have different causes, but those causes all trace back to the same root cause – sin.
In any case, how should followers of Jesus Christ handle the crap that life serves us?
For me, the key is to realize the sufferings of this life are temporary. The perfection God planned for the human race will be realized in eternity.
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)
4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. (Revelation 21:4)
3 And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. (Revelation 22:3)
Life on this earth is but the blink of an eye in the grand scheme of eternity. The junk we live through in this life is only temporary. For followers of Jesus Christ, the current life is the worst it will ever be; for unbelievers, unfortunately, this life is the best it will ever be.
The other thing is that, even though we must face a lot of pain and suffering in this world, as a Christian, I have the Holy Spirit living inside me to comfort, guide, and direct me through the junk of life.
33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written:
“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)
While I’m still hurt, depressed, and scared about both my hip and my job situation, I am holding on to the promises God has given me in His word. God never promised to keep His followers from the difficulties of life, but rather promised to walk with us through the difficulties. And, while I know I’ll struggle during the next days (or weeks, or months, depending on when I find another job and/or have my surgery), I know that God is with me through the process, and that He is in control of the situation.