Curled up on the couch in my college apartment, I was faced with one of the most difficult questions of all: one of my roommates, a nonbeliever, asked “Why does God let bad things happen to good people? If He has a plan, why does He let bad things happen to his ‘beloved’ children?” As a Christian, I have heard this question many times before, and it has been addressed in many sermons over the years. Somehow, this didn’t make answering the question much easier. I closed my eyes and silently prayed – Lord, give me the right words. Before I realized what I was saying, I said, “There is no such thing as a good person aside from Jesus. Jesus was perfect and He was killed in the most brutal way imaginable. Every person, no matter how ‘good’ they may seem, is sinful. Life on Earth is just a blip on the screen of eternity, and no matter how terrible and monumental life can feel now, God’s plan is perfect and more intricate than we can imagine.” As I continued to explain the complex issue of God’s plan for our lives, I was reminded of a passage from today’s reading (Matthew 16:21-23) which reads as follows:
21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. 22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” 23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
Peter, in his concern for Jesus’s wellbeing, spoke against the plan Jesus had laid forth that would lead to His crucifixion. The first time I read this passage, I anticipated that Jesus would respond with something like “Take heart, child. This is the plan that must be done. I will be raised to life again and all will be well.” The reality of the passage was a lot harsher; Jesus sternly replied “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Wasn’t Peter merely concerned for Jesus’s safety? Upon analyzing the sentiment of Jesus’s words, a deeper issue is revealed; as humans, we are unable to fully grasp the will of God. As such, it is arrogant and foolish to assume that we know better. Like Peter, we often rebuke situations that seem as if “bad things are happening to good people.” In reality, it was God’s will that His own perfect and blameless son would be brutally sacrificed for our sins. If that was Jesus’s fate, how can we then speak out against God’s will when it appears unfavorable to us – sinful humans? As followers of Jesus, we need to readjust our attitudes and humble ourselves in the face of God’s perfect will. Let us not question His will, but instead submit in reverence of His goodness.
Lord, please help me to be more in tune with your will for my life. Help me to submit to your will and humble myself in light of my finite knowledge and your infinite faithfulness. Please remind me that your ways are not my ways, and that your ways are infinitely better. Lord give me your eyes to see your will, and the patience and peace to accept your will when it is not mine to comprehend. I love you, I praise you, and I thank you for your unending provision. Amen.
Question: Do you struggle with arrogance? Are you placing your own plans above God’s will and/or questioning His motives? How can you practice humility in the face of God’s perfect will? How can you focus yourself on “the concerns of God” rather than human concerns?