Matthew 26:39 - And going a little farther He (Jesus) fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will."
People have often asked, "How do you preach in a studio when nobody is there?"
My answer is simple: I am not alone. I bring into the studio with me the memories of so many special people I have known during my parish ministry.
Let's see ... there's the couple who can't have children. Each week they put aside the ache within their hearts and teach the children of other people in Sunday school. Four rows back, there is a man whose father and mother died within two months of each other. Over there is a mother who is worried about her teen-aged daughter; she suspects an eating disorder. Near her is a man who has lost three jobs in as many years. He is intelligent, a good worker, but the places where he has been employed have all gone belly up.
On the other side, is a woman who was engaged to be engaged. Her fiancé was killed in a car accident. Halfway back there is the man whose 28-year-old son was found dead, in bed. No, there were no drugs, alcohol, or anything else involved. The young man just died. Going further back is a husband and wife. They come to church each Sunday holding hands. After 35 years of marriage they still love each other. That love is going to be tested in the months to come as the wife, who is less than 60, has been told she has Alzheimer's.
Those of you who don't know Jesus and the great sacrifice He has made in His life, suffering, death, and resurrection may find yourselves wondering just why all of these people continue to come to church. You may be asking why do these individuals bother? What good has their faith been to them? If the God these people worship is really supposed to be loving, kind, and caring, why does He treat His faithful children so shabbily? If God is all powerful and can do anything He wishes, why doesn't He invest just a little bit of that power in healing the hurts of these people?
If that is what you're thinking, what you're feeling, let me tell you -- you are not alone. If you could look into the hearts and minds of these Christians sitting in the pews, and if they were being very, very honest, most would hang their heads and confess they once -- and maybe more than once -- felt the same way. There is the man who lost two daughters to a car accident as they drove to school. There is the woman who thought she had married "Mr. Right," only to find he was in almost every way possible, "Mr. Wrong."
These Christians asked, "Why? Why me?" They wondered: "Is God punishing me for some sin?"
Now it is true the Lord does sometimes punish a certain sin, but when He does that correction, it is obvious. It is not a secret people have to guess at. But there are also times when the Heavenly Father can be like a protective parent who allows a pain to come, so His child might be protected. (Think of a parent letting the doctor give a child a shot the little one doesn't understand.) And, yes, there may be those rare times when God will do something which no one can understand. When that happens, we do well to trust our Father for He knows what is best.
Does all this still seem unfair? If so, please go to Jesus and ask Him. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed He might be spared from the unjust suffering that was coming. Yes, it was unfair, but for a greater good -- our salvation -- Jesus suffered and died, so we might live.
Which ultimately is our answer: God can bring about a greater good when His people suffer.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I may not always understand why bad things happen to good people. At such times, may I remember You have a greater good which can be accomplished when Your children trust You to do the right thing. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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