Some of them are big.
Some of them are small.
Some of them are very enjoyable circles. Circles of friendship, circles of good times and joy filled experiences.
Some of them are filled with family.
Some of them are very lonely.
Some of them raise more questions than answers.
Some of them involve 17 year olds having lung surgery and 8 year olds being hit by cars and killed. Some of them involve people in your circle saying, “I can’t handle the pain any more” and attempting to make it stop.
Some of them involve times of doubt and anger.
Some of them involve Boko Haram and ISIS. Some of them involve military families who have paid the ultimate price defending against those evils.
Some of them involve people literally starving to death. And children being abused – many times by someone they know and used to trust. And Christians being beheaded on camera for their faith.
Some of them involve systems and institutions that are supposed to be helping that are actually making things worse – like the church, like orphanages, like adoption agencies, like short term missionaries, like the foster care system.
Some of them involve unspeakable acts of genocide, mutilation, bloodshed and torture. And it’s not “over there” because today’s communications bring it “right here” and inside our circle.
How do we justify the evil, horrible and tortuous things that happen in our circles? Especially, how do we balance those with what it says in Romans 8:28 –
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.
Doesn’t that mean life is supposed to be rainbows and unicorns once we believe in God?
Far from it – John Pavlovitz says it better than I could – “http://johnpavlovitz.com/2015/05/29/why-everything-does-not-happen-for-a-reason/”
“In our profound distress, this idea forces us to run down dark, twisted rabbit trails, looking for the specific part of The Greater Plan that this suffering all fits into……”
“This isn’t a Heavenly insurance policy paid with faith and exempting us from anything unpleasant, but the promise that if we choose to respond to all things from a place of love and goodness; that we, not necessarily our circumstances will be better for it…….”
“No I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason, but I do believe there is meaning in how we respond to all things that happen to us, even when they are not at all good things.”
John doesn’t have any easy answers for why, why this life isn’t a piece of cake. But he makes a couple of very solid points:
- We but not necessarily our circumstances will be better for it – if we respond the way God calls us to.
- Learning and choosing to follow God and what that means and how you do it often brings the good out of the terrible and the difficult.
Why do some people seem to get to eat a nice piece of chocolate cake while others only get flour and salt?
I don’t know.
Why doesn’t God give everyone a nice of their very favorite type of cake for their “lot in life?”
I don’t know.
But I know this…….
God, through Paul, says more later on in Chapter 8:
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We are conquerors. That means we aren’t just sitting around eating cake, we’re in a battle. None of the things in vs. 38 and vs. 39 will win and will separate us from the love of God.
Why these things happen, that’s a mystery that we won’t be able to solve here on earth. But the end result is our good – because if we believe in Jesus, then we will obtain the ultimate good – life with him.
Until the mystery is revealed, if it is, we wait, we suffer and struggle and we cling to the hope and the knowledge that God will not let go of us.
No matter whether our cake is good or bitter or half baked.
More on the subject:
From my friend Shelley in Haiti – “”A woman stood outside my gate for the past week with a new infant and a toddler in tow. Day after day she waited and day after day I told her we didn’t have work. We don’t have work. Not enough work. Today she followed me for four blocks. It annoyed me. Can’t I just walk down the street without being harassed? After my appointment four blocks away, I went to leave. She was there- baby in arms, waiting. Hopeful. No work I said! Stop following me! She paused a second and then she just broke down and wept. She wept. She sobbed. Lord have mercy, I thought. I need to sell some more jewelry.” ~ Shelley Clay”