Posted by: kathryngraves | July 20, 2012

The Panic Button

“I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things.” Isaiah 45:7

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” James 1:2

We have somehow gotten a fallacy into our heads like Job’s friends in the Old Testament and the Pharisees in the New Testament. We think that if good things happen to us, God is pleased with us, and if bad things happen, God is punishing us. If that were true, then God must have been displeased with Paul every day after his conversion!

The truth is that bad things happen to godly people. Max Lucado says, “We interpret the presence of a problem as the absence of God.” (God Came Near) I would suggest that if bad things never happen to you, you might not be God’s child. Consider these verses from Proverbs: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; For whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.” (3:11-12) In the same way, we would question the love of parents who let their children do whatever they want. We call it neglect.

When the diagnosis is cancer, or the doctor says, “He’s gone,” panic may be natural, but it isn’t appropriate. Undesirable circumstances may be a “chastening” or they may be a testing of our faith. They may simply be the result of someone else’s sin splashing over on us. They could even be consequences of righteous living in a sin-filled world. But most assuredly they are what God will use to draw us closer to Him and make us light in the darkness surrounding us.

The week I found out I had cancer, I did panic. My family made frantic phone calls and searched the internet like crazy people trying to find a place for my treatment as soon as possible. Shock melted into numbness, but the underlying panic button never let up for a few days. It took a while for God to get through to me that He was in charge and that He had a purpose in mind. I knew my disease was not the result of conscious sin (although I’m much better now at paying attention to what I eat and my pattern of exercise is more regular). I had sought out and followed what I knew to be God’s will for my life. The only possible reason for my cancer was to draw me into a closer relationship with the Lord and to bring glory to Him.

I also discovered the truth of Henry Blackaby’s teaching: It is dangerous to try to interpret our circumstances from the middle of them. We can only correctly do so when we have heard from God, remembering His incredible love for us. The right question is not “why?” but “How?” How does God want to use this situation in my life? And “What?” What does God want to do through this situation? If you ask Him, then go to the Bible, pray, and seek godly counsel, He’ll tell you.

Light / unframed pastel by Janet Aiken

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