Have you ever called out to God, but it felt like He wasn’t listening? Maybe you have faced a tragedy and are wondering where God was in your time of need. Pastors, friends, Bible studies, devotionals, or family members can quote as many Scriptures about God never leaving or forsaking you as they want (Deuteronomy 31:6), but that does not change the fact that something terrible has happened and God did not prevent it from occurring.
When people become followers in Yeshua, some expect God to warn or prevent them from going into the incoming storm. However, like the previous blog post, Turning the Other Cheek, highlighted, we were never promised a stress-free or hardship-free life when we began our walk with Yeshua.
I’ve seen many people become bitter when they face illness, death, disappointment, or injustice. Their faith waivers because they don’t understand how a God who says that He is faithful (2 Thessalonians 3:3), that He is our protector (Psalm 91), and that He will never tempt up beyond what we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13), can allow such things to happen to His chosen people.
Working with survivors of the Holocaust, I frequently hear people ask, “Where was God during the Holocaust?” And while there is no easy answer to this question, I wholeheartedly believe that through all trials, God brings forth blessings. If our lives were wholly carefree and comfortable, we would never grow as people or learn what it means to trust in the Lord through the battles (Proverbs 3:5-6). Nevertheless, saying this in no way implies that we should look at the events of the Holocaust or the suffering of the millions of innocent people as God’s doing!
Despite common belief, evil did not enter this world the moment Adam and Eve took a bite of the apple. (Genesis 3:6) In fact, evil was in this world before the foundations of the earth were created! The moment the couple ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, their eyes were opened to see the world the way God does. (Genesis 3:2-3) Reprimanded and cursed by the Lord for their disobedience, two of the consequences of Adam and Eve’s decision was being removed from the Garden of Eden and no longer being in fellowship with the Lord. On that day, man was given a choice to choose between being God-fearing or allowing sin to rule in their lives — just look at Cain and Abel in Genesis 4.
Three weeks ago, I attended a Shalom House event that celebrated the Jewish Holiday Ti Bshvat, or New Year of Trees, which observes the prosperity of the fruits in the Land of Israel. At this event, Jody Ryabinov said something that has continued to replay in my mind. While speaking about trees in the winter and how they look dead without their leaves, she added that while they do not look good on the outside, on the inside the sap is hardening and the roots are providing the trees with life, protecting them against the harsh conditions. Jody explained to the survivors, “We are like the trees of the field, are we not? (Isaiah 55:12) We are Jewish and went through a lot during the war and the Holocaust. We looked like that tree without leaves, but something was happening inside of us (despite the tribulations), and now here we are in Israel! And, not only do we have leaves, but we have fruit here as well!”
We can look at what happened during the Holocaust as God’s abandonment of the Jewish people, but there is a plan in all things. After the Holocaust, another wave of Jewish people came home, and within a few decades, the state of Israel was established! Satan is always trying to destroy those called to inherit the Kingdom of God or take us away from the Holy Land, but our God IS faithful and turns ashes into beauty (Isaiah 61).
Today, we see Satan’s schemes all around us. His works are in the news, in our entertainment, within our families, and operating in the hearts of the people around us. The devil is working overtime to try to stir the body of believers into unbelief and betrayal, along with trying to keep people away from understanding the magnificence and truth of Yeshua Ha’Mashiach.
Why do bad things happen to good people? First of all, I want to counter that question by asking, what is your definition of good? From where I’m sitting, we are all sinners, each and every one of us. Not one of us on this earth is pure or sinless. We all stumble, make mistakes, and face our own weaknesses and addictions; but, because of Yeshua’s sacrifice on the cross, we can be set free from the wicked ways of our flesh and begin living life the way Yeshua did when he walked on the earth with us.
I believe that we need to stop asking God why He has forsaken us when we are in the midst of a storm and begin asking Him for the reason He has brought us into the downpour. I love what it said in Matthew 8 when Yeshua and His disciples were on a boat on the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). A massive storm brewed and rocked the boat, causing the disciples to become terrified. Yeshua was asleep, and when they woke Him, asking how He could sleep when they were all going to die, Yeshua replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” The next part of the verse goes on to say, “Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.”
I can’t pretend to know what you are going through; however, whatever storm you are facing, tragedy you are mourning, or sickness you are fighting, I want you to know that God is with you and will guide you through the wind, rain, and lightning. It’s time to armor up and get ready to fight for the Truth! Your faith should not be based on the wonders or blessings you have seen, but through the faithfulness you have observed through previous trials and hardships. I encourage you to look back on your life and see how the tribulations and storms you have experienced have helped you get to where you are today; you will be amazed at your growth in both your maturity and walk with Yeshua.
We do not fight against flesh and blood but through the spiritual and heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12) No matter what you are going through, even when it doesn’t feel like it, God is with you amidst the storm and is calling you not to be afraid, to trust in Him, and to walk on the water, keeping your eyes focused on Him rather than everything else around you! (Matthew 14:22-33)
“When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans…Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we bless you. The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine on us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will praise you; you are my God, and I will exalt you. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (Psalm 118:5-8;26-29)