Why Believe When Bad Things Happen?
Senior Pastor Nick Hughes from Emmanuel Church in Lewisham, London (www.epchurchaog.com) answers the question: why should I continue to believe in God when bad things happen to me?
Hi Nick, how are you?
Yes I'm great just for the camera sake. Off-camera I'll be saying hmm, this is quite apprehensive but we'll get there.
So we're doing a series called #AskThePastor and our question for you is: “I'm a Christian, why should I continue to believe in God when bad things continue to happen to me?”
Yeah, okay I mean this are there's so many things that I’d like to respond to on that. I think were the first thing I’d say is if you believe in God because he's kept you happy and he's kept you healthy, then you probably really haven't come to a real proper faith and understanding of what God has done for you.
I understand God has, we use this phrase “saved me”, “forgiven me”, I totally believe that and He owes nothing more to me than that. My eternal destiny is secure because God says I've made a way for you
I live the rest of my life in gratitude for that. Whether good stuff happens to me or bad stuff happens to me, it's not dependent on that belief in Him. So my belief is not as fragile as if I'm going through a good time or a bad time.
Do bad things that happen to us stop us from asking the big questions of God? No I don't think so, I think God has extremely broad shoulders and He welcomes questions and I think if you follow a lot of the narratives of the Bible there's some really significant characters in the Bible that are recorded in history, patriarchs, that have had arguments with God. Arguing with God is a time-honoured tradition biblically. Moses didn't like where God was sending him. Job, he had loads of questions about why bad stuff happened to him but none of those questions caused him to lose faith interestingly. They were legitimate questions but they never stopped him talking to God and they never stopped him keeping his trust in God.
There's a great phrase in Job that says, “even though he slays me”, to use an old-fashioned term “even though he kills me, yet will I trust him” (Job 13:15). I've never forgotten that particular verse. Job's faith in God wasn't dependent upon his wealth, his comfort, his circumstance. Of course that's the whole point of that particular book: to prove that point. He still asked some pretty major questions of God, but it didn't push him off of his faith.
So in answer to that question Paul, with people who say, “well why should I keep believing in God?” – “Why is it you believe in God?” is perhaps my response. What is around that whole belief system? Is it because He just gives you nice stuff or do you genuinely understand that God has already done so much for me that, whatever happens, He's still worth believing and putting trust in.
I think, as an addendum, I'd say stuff happens but that's not the end of our story. Even death is not the end of our story if we understand it as Christians. So to make a rash decision about where you place your faith based on only going part way through your story of life seems a bit foolish to me because God has more in store. Even after death Christianity teaches there's more in store.
Would you want to risk temporary pain for eternal destiny? Why would you want to do that? I am sure I'll go through that in my life, I'll go through sadness but I'd still rather hang on to God and see what His ultimately answer over my life is.
I'm convinced that one day I'll stand before Him and He'll explain stuff that I don't understand. And no matter how painful it is, I will say in that moment it was worth that pain to have what I have here now.