Good things come from God, the bad things come from somewhere else

by Kyle
published July 20, 2013


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Some questions are hard enough to think about when you take a break to sit down and peruse the paper.

Questions of why some people suffer so much, or maybe why you yourself are suffering so much. Why does there seem to be so much hurt in a world with so much potential for good? Why doesn’t an omnipotent and perfectly good God stop so much evil from happening in the first place?

It’s an even harder question to answer when you are in the middle of that hurt and pain and evil. As you sit sipping your coffee on a Saturday morning, it’s hard to see God’s thinking clearly, but from the middle of the fray, it’s almost undetectable. Even if it were detectable, the pain hurts so bad that God’s goodness could still be unbelievable.

James 1:12-18 provides part of the answer to this question.

Lest we forget, James 1:12 reminds us of the truths we need to remember when life gets hard. The theme throughout the book of James is that hard times are good for the believer.

The main point is to show how only good things come directly from God. Not only that, but God is the only source of good things. And if God is the only culpable source of good things, and God is only capable of producing good things, then we cannot blame him for bad things. (James 1:13,17)

If God is sovereign and omnipotent, how is it that something can be out of his control? To answer that, it’s important to remember that God is not the only volitional being in the universe.

You and I were created to make our own choices. God can only do logically possible things, and directly controlling the free will of beings is a logical contradiction. You can’t sincerely ask someone to serve you freely because they love you and force them into servitude at the same time.

The Book of James points out that we, as people who are capable of making bad choices, are ourselves a major (though not the only) source of the evil in the world.

James 1:14-16 describes a progression that should be familiar. We get this idea, then it seems more and more attractive until we want the idea bad enough to make it happen — even though we know it’s wrong — then we do it and thus sin against God. It’s important to know that acting contrary to the good of God not only separates us from God, but also from each other.

If we follow God well, we have fellowship with each other. (1 John 1:7)

The reverse is true as well: When we sin against God, we injure each other and drive a wedge into our relationships, making us the cause of someone else’s suffering.

Have you ever been hurt by someone you knew well and loved? How does it make sense to blame God rather than the person who hurt you?

We know there are other sources of suffering. The world has been corrupted by our sin — see Genesis 3:17, and notice how the ground is cursed “because of (Adam),” not because of God.

We also know we have a spiritual enemy who is opposed to God and us, and delights in causing pain — see John 10:10, and notice how Satan’s purposes are compared to God’s.

The point is that of all the sources of evil, pain and suffering, God is not one of them. In fact, God protects us from the pain that is too much for us.

God “will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Notice how even here, God is not directly tempting, but protects us from all temptation except what we are able to endure with his help. This implies that on some level, suffering is good for us — especially when we remember James 1:2-3:

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”

Hundreds upon hundreds of volumes have been written on why suffering exists, but the Book of James is quite clear: Whatever the reason, God is not it.

In fact, quite to the contrary, all the good in your life — whether you believe God exists or not — comes from Him.

Above all, according to James 1:18, it was because God is so good that he chose to communicate who he is to us, even sending his son to live and die for us, that we might turn to him and live.

In the hard times, do you remember the good that God continues to give you? Do you remember all the bad he has protected you from?

What do you think?

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