I appreciate the questions that many are submitting during our series, That’s a Great Question. In our current message series, we’re looking at some of the questions that Jesus asked of others in the Gospels. Jesus’s questions always challenged people’s motives and assumptions causing them to assess their own hearts and whether they were willing to trust him. During this series, we are encouraging our White Oak family to consider some of your own questions. Each week we’re choosing one of those questions to discuss here. Thank you for valuing authenticity and helping us create safe spaces for asking questions along the faith journey.
Here's the question we’re tackling today: Why does God keep allowing obstacles on my journey toward him? I hesitate to assume something about any question, but I’m going to go out on a limb and couple that question with another that was submitted which I believe is related. That is, why does God allow bad things to happen to people?
Questions like these are perhaps the number one question which creates a spiritual blockade for many. This is the question which can derail faith for some, or which causes many to never embrace faith in Jesus at all. It’s a very real and usually personal question which points to real pain and struggles.
We cannot answer this question with any absolutes. And the danger of even trying to can often leave us with trite and unsatisfactory answers. The only thing we can do is point to Scripture in attempt to understand what Jesus said about obstacles and pain in our lives and how we addressed them.
Suffering has many faces. Jesus said this to his disciples, in John 16:33,
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Jesus told us that we would face troubles. We would experience suffering in this world. He knew that no one would be immune from obstacles to life and faith.
In Scripture we see that suffering can come from foolish choices such as David’s affair with Bathsheba resulting in painful consequences. Many times, we are not walking closely with God and as a result we are making decisions that don’t align with his character or mission. We are apt to be unwise when we aren’t asking God and seeking his wisdom in all things. And then, responding in obedience to what we know.
Pain can come as a result of sin breaking God’s created order (Romans 8:22). Many of us experience bad things because sin has corrupted not only the heart of every person but also the natural world. The sinful or foolish choices of others can have negative impact on us. Human decisions can cause ripple effects of pain on others. Satan can use his lies to mislead us and distract us from God’s sovereign love and truth.
Jesus himself suffered. In Luke 22:42 Jesus asked God to take away the pain he was about to experience on the cross, but he surrendered to God’s plan and power.
We cannot know the why to the question of the pain or obstacles which God allows us to face. We are promised, however, that God is not absent from us in the pain.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. -Romans 8:28
29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. -Matthew 11:29
The one thing we do know is that God walks with us when we hurt and struggle. Jesus offers us peace and his heart! He has overcome this world. Our pain and obstacles cannot overcome us, and they cannot stand forever. That’s a promise! Take on the grace of Jesus and your soul will find rest even in the hurts. He calls each of us to deeper steps of obedience and trust as we move closer to him.
So thankful that He’s with us,
Lead Pastor, White Oak Christian Church