Why do bad things happen to good people? We ask ourselves that constantly. Storm clouds roll in and the skies darken. Things seem bleak. What do we do? Where do we run? What is going to happen now? We claw at any morsel of reassurance. I’m here to tell you, no matter who you are, bad things happen to you. It’s a part of life. But there is hope.
I’m going to start this entry off by throwing two Bible verses at you from the get-go. Take a minute to absorb this, contemplate their meanings for just a moment before you continue reading.
45 …that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:45)
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all.” (Psalm 34:19)
Simply put, life is dark. It destroys people. Life is just a destructive thing. It is not impartial to humans, and misfortune and chaos creeps onto each of their lives in its own way. Life is not partial. However, Satan uses life’s complications in much fiercer ways against Christians. I would boldly claim that Christians are on the short end of everything in this world. This is to suppress us, to discourage us from reaching our full potential and get our mind hooked on other problems. Satan wants to make us addicts to complaining, depression, and frustration. Although life affects everyone negatively, Satan wants our reactions to this to cripple us.
However, there is hope. God delivers. Storms are a part of life, and I want to talk about how we can deal with them and rely on God.
A very close friend of mine was dealing with some things not too long ago and described her life as a “hurricane” to me. A hurricane that would not stop pouring over her. A storm that would not relent.
Psalm 69 presented itself to me as I was preparing this lesson. I was flipping through my Bible randomly, searching for any more material God wanted me to include, as I usually do. When all of a sudden, I stopped at this psalm, randomly, and began reading it. Only days after my friend had told me about her hurricane.
“Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.
2 I sink in deep mire,
Where there is no standing;
I have come into deep waters,
Where the floods overflow me.
3 I am weary with my crying;
My throat is dry;
My eyes fail while I wait for my God.” (Psalm 69:1-3)
Psalm 69 paints a perfect picture of how we feel in the most difficult situations of our lives. The modern era has introduced a new level of stressful living. We are constantly going back and forth, ten billion projects per day, and we’re twelve days late for each of them. It seems as though it never stops. On top of that, the drama of our social lives inflates that stress. We have relationships in peril, spats between family, bullying, interpersonal tension, and all sorts of convoluted situations. Additionally, life’s tragedy strikes. We have death of loved ones, accidents, sicknesses, financial crises, etc. All of these things are much like their own clusters of hail shooting from the skies and bruising our skin. We just can’t seem to escape.
These few verses in particular capture that completely. Deep waters and the threat of drowning in your own life, each one of us has known. A moment in your life “where there is no standing.” I have been there, as well as you. Now, take a moment to read a portion of the text as found later on in Psalm 69.
” 13 But as for me, my prayer is to You,
O Lord, in the acceptable time;
O God, in the multitude of Your mercy,
Hear me in the truth of Your salvation.
14 Deliver me out of the mire,
And let me not sink;
Let me be delivered from those who hate me,
And out of the deep waters.
15 Let not the floodwater overflow me,
Nor let the deep swallow me up;
And let not the pit shut its mouth on me.
16 Hear me, O Lord, for Your lovingkindness is good;
Turn to me according to the multitude of Your tender mercies.
17 And do not hide Your face from Your servant,
For I am in trouble;
Hear me speedily.
18 Draw near to my soul, and redeem it;
Deliver me because of my enemies.” (Psalm 69:13-18)
Carefully read over this. The first few verses state: “13 But as for me, my prayer is to You, O Lord, in the acceptable time; O God, in the multitude of Your mercy, Hear me in the truth of Your salvation. 14 Deliver me out of the mire, And let me not sink…
God will deliver us from our hurricane in the “acceptable time.” God has appointed days for everything. He works things out during the days in between, and eventually the result is seen in these “acceptable times” of deliverance. Patience is key here, because “weeping may endure for a night, but joys comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).
What’s the point, you may ask? That comes later in Psalm 69. Take a look at those last verses I listed. This is what jumped out at me:
18 Draw near to my soul, and redeem it;
Deliver me because of my enemies.
During the storm, we draw near to God. How? We cry out to Him. Sometimes God uses a storm to get our attention. Otherwise, when would we turn to Him? I personally believe that a big storm is a sign of a big blessing. When God allows you to be thrown through darkness, that’s just a sign that He’s about to turn it up a notch in your spiritual life. God wants us to learn to lean on Him. Storms are the best way to teach us that. We are broken by them, and we come to a point where we must face God and ask for His guidance. God brings us to a place where He is all we have left to turn to, so that we can realize that He is the best place to turn to. We learn to make Him the first thing we consult.
Out of this, whatever bond we previously had with God is strengthened. When we trust Him through the storm to deliver us, He draws near to our souls. We become closer with God. That is the purpose of battles in our lives. Not only do they glorify God, and produce testimonies which can inspire someone else, but they raise us up a level on our walk with God. And that, inevitably, is a big deal to Him. He wants you to be as close with Him as possible. And He wants you to let Him be your strength, and your defender. He wants to personally control and take care of each and every difficulty that comes your way. He wants you to let it go and stop trying to figure it out for yourself, but rather ask for His help and let Him take care of things. Furthermore, what He truly wants, is for such a deep bond and exchange of love between the two of you that you would run to Him like this.
One of God’s greatest pleasures in life is fighting your battles for you. The joy He receives when you relinquish control is inconceivably radiant.
God wants to deliver victory into your hands. However, we sometimes search for this deliverance and victory in other things. We boast about our own successes instead of crediting God with them, which drifts us farther from His aid. I want to take a moment to observe another Bible story to show you what I’m talking about. Let’s turn the pages back quite some ways to the book of Judges, chapter 6. This is the story of a boy named Gideon.
Now, at this time in history, the Israelites have inhabited the Promised Land. However, they have enemies on all sides. One of these enemies is the Midianites, who bully and oppress the Israelites constantly. God calls Gideon, a mere farm boy, to rally some soldiers and defeat them. After overcoming crippling doubt and anxiety, and faithlessly forcing God to provide him with signs of confirmation, Gideon finally gathers his soldiers. He manages to accumulate thousands upon thousands of them, enough to very easily overtake the Midianites. However, God tells him to send a large portion of them home. He does this several times, until only 300 of them remain.
“Then Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the people who were with him rose early and encamped beside the well of Harod, so that the camp of the Midianites was on the north side of them by the hill of Moreh in the valley. 2 And the Lord said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ ” (Judges 7:1-2)
Sometimes God weakens us. He brings us to our smallest. He even breaks us. This is so that the odds seem so terribly unlikely, that when the victory does happen, the amazement cannot be contained, and the miraculous nature of God is proven. (Notice I said, “when” the victory happens, not “if”)
Sometimes we must be lowered before we can be lifted. Picture those sets of blinds we keep in our windows. We must lower the string to pull the blinds up. Christians are similar. We must be brought to a low place before we can set foot on our high place.
This is also to humble us, so that we do not credit ourselves with victories that we could never have gotten on our own. When this happens, we clearly know that it was God’s doing. Not our own.
An illustration I often use when helping people understand this is one to do with baking. Specifically, look at the egg. Humans are like God’s eggs. We have a hard exterior shell, which is our “self” and our ego, our fleshliness, our pride and stubbornness, etc. And it must be broken so that what’s inside can be poured out. Then, that stuff, the insides (the yoke) is made into something new. We can make cakes, breakfast food, even other forms of eggs, with this stuff. But we can never get to it unless the shell is broken.
Sometimes circumstance demands the chipping away of our thick shells, till we pour ourselves out to God and He transforms us. During the storm, we feel hurt and heartbroken, but we should thank God for it, because He had the desire to take us to a whole new level on our relationship with Him. He had such a desire for closeness with us that He would allow the storm to happen. In the end, it proved to make us stronger in Him. Our reliance on Him is more pronounced. Our love and our trust for Him is greater.
I have found one more story to help you understand this, from Matthew 14:
22 Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. 23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. 24 But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.
25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.
27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”
28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”
31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
33 Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:22-33)
One of the clearest pictures of God’s purpose through the storm in the entire Bible. The sea was raging and the disciples stand on their boat, fear gripping their hearts. The waters toss the boat around like a mere feather, as though it were nothing. And then, in the fourth watch of the night, Jesus comes walking on the waves. And at first they did not recognize Him.
God is present during the storm, even when we do not see or feel Him. We may not realize His presence in our troubles, but that does not mean He is not still standing there.
Peter cries out. To me, his cry is almost in complete imitation of Psalm 69, verse 18. “Draw near to my soul.” Have you noticed anything yet? Have you noticed that, in the midst of this storm, God brought Peter closer to Him? Peter climbed out of the boat and walked to Him, and the two were closer in distance than before. God made Himself closer to Peter through his storm, and He will draw closer to you in yours.
Even as Peter doubted and began to sink, God’s hand shot through the dark waters. And in the “acceptable time” Peter was delivered.
14 Deliver me out of the mire,
And let me not sink;
Let me be delivered from those who hate me,
And out of the deep waters. (Psalm 69:14)
God will deliver, always.
Furthermore, I will leave you with one last thought: We should not only thank God for the deliverance, but we should even thank Him for the storm in the first place.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)
I know this may sound silly, even harsh perhaps, but we should thank God for every bad thing that happens to us. Because those bad things bring us closer to God, and create new people out of us. Now, that is easily said by me, given that I don’t know what you are going through. However, I have experienced enough to know this much is true for me. I thank God for the storms. Because each time they come, though I fall for a little while, I become stronger. I rise again. I am more powerful in God than I was before.
3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:3)
Think about that. Bad things help shape our relationship with God. God doesn’t create these storms, but sometimes He allows them. I would even say He arranges around them in anticipation for them. What Satan intends to use for evil, God will use for good. What the devil tries to use to tear us down, God will use to elevate us.
I hope this helps you, and you keep this all in mind in your next battle.