Monday Musings for June 26, 2017
Dwayne Evanson leads our United Methodist Men’s group. He does a wonderful job. Last Tuesday we wrapped up our study of Adam Hamilton’s book, Half-Truths. It’s a thought-provoking book. Do you agree with the following?
- Everything happens for a reason. God helps those who help themselves.
- God won’t give you more than you can handle.
- God said it, I believe it, that settles it.
- Love the sinner, hate the sin.
Most people not only agree with these, they believe they are all to be found somewhere in the Bible. But none of these is in the Bible. And none of these is completely true.
That’s the premise of Adam Hamilton’s book. He takes these statements, one by one, and helps the reader see the truth as well as the error in each of them.
I am always hearing people say, “Everything happens for a reason.” It seems to be an article of faith, held tenaciously even by those who don’t profess much faith.
It’s a way of making sense of the senseless and tragic things that come our way. It’s a way of framing something bad in such a way that it is not all bad. There is a reason. Often we mean by that, God has a reason. We may not understand now, but we trust that when the veil is lifted and we do understand, we will be able to see that God knew best.
The problem with this line of thinking is that it can turn God into a monster. A baby dies and a well-meaning friend tells the grieving parents that God must have needed another angel in heaven. Is that the way God works? There’s a lot I don’t know about God, but I do know that the God revealed by Jesus Christ is not remotely like that. God is a good and loving parent who like any good and loving parent wants only the best for his children.
Peter Storey is one of my heroes. He is a leader in the Methodist Church of South Africa. He was one of several who played a major role in the ending of apartheid in that troubled country.
He was quite young when his father was dying of heart disease. Peter Storey was angry with God. Why should this great man be taken from his family and from his life’s work at such a young age? His father didn’t see it that way. He said: “Peter, God has trusted me with this illness.”
He did not say, “God has sent me this illness.” He did not say, “Everything happens for a reason, so God must have a reason for this.” What he was saying is, “Now that this has happened to me, God is trusting me to bear it well.” And he did. And young Peter’s faith was strengthened by the faith he had witnessed. His earthly father’s faith in his Heavenly Father made a lifelong impression on Peter Storey.
Faith is easy on a beautiful summer morning with everything going great in our lives. Faith is harder when it’s not quite that way. But God is just as real, and God’s love for you is just as great, regardless.