Friday, October 3, 2014

Will God Protect My Children?

Read a Blog Entry by Michael Patton on The Gospel Coalition (to see the full article Click Here ) and really liked it and wanted to share it with you!

It was the day of my sister Angie's funeral. He (the author's friend) came to my parents' house along with many other guests after I had preached at the church. He sat by the side of the house, timidly lurking about, not really knowing what to say. He knew Angie well and, like the rest of us, was devastated and confused by her passing.

When we finally talked, I could tell something was on his mind, some deep-seated issue that the tragic circumstances of that week had raised. We began to talk by his car.  We talked a bit about Angie and the many mutual friends who had shown up.  Then things turned serious.

“I am scared,” he said. 

“Scared of what?” I asked. 

“You love Jesus and have been doing so much for him,” he said. ”Yet look at what has happened to you. Look at what happened to your sister. Look at the pain of your family. Look at your mom. Especially your mom. Your poor mom. She has always been into Jesus. She is the best example of a Christian I know of. Look at what God is doing to her. I am scared. I am scared of God.”

After another period of silence he asked the question of the hour: “Will God protect my children? Will he protect them, or is he going to do to me what he did to your mom? Because from where I sit it looks like if you follow the Lord too closely, he brings terrible things into your life. I love my children, and I am scared to death that he might hurt them or take them from me because I follow him . . . to test me or something. I don’t want that.”

My friend  was questioning God’s plan, His intentions, and he was scared of God.

This is really the broader question of suffering.  Although It is not, “Why does God allow suffering in general?”  It was a “will” question. What will God do? What can I expect as a child of God? Is he going to require too much of me?

How do we answer such questions? How should we answer them to avoid misinterpreting God?

Three Really Bad Answers

1. Yes, of course he will protect your children. That is one of the benefits of being a child of God. Sign on the dotted line.

My friend Trevin Wax says:

If you believe that coming to Christ will make life easier and better, then you will be disappointed when suffering comes your way. Storms destroy our homes. Cancer eats up our bodies. Economic recessions steal our jobs. If you see God as a vending machine, then you will become disillusioned when your candy bar doesn’t drop. You may get angry and want to start banging on the machine. Or maybe you will be plagued with guilt, convinced that your suffering indicates God’s disapproval of something you’ve done. When we emphasize the temporal blessings that come from following Christ, we plant the seeds for a harvest of heartbreak.

2. No, he will not protect your children. There is a good chance that God will take them from you to test your faith. It's called “bearing your cross.”

Suffering and evil are a part of the fall and are in God’s hands. While God uses suffering to bring us closer to him and while we should not be surprised by this type of trial (1 Peter 4:12), we don’t know what God is going to do in our lives.

Matthew 5:45 says that God “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Suffering and pain are part of life. They are a part of everyone’s life. There is no way to know what God is going to do. While God is not in the business of making sure everyone lives as long a life as possible, he does desire Christians to live as full a life as possible.

All people I know have their share of suffering. The major difference between the suffering of the believer and that of the non-believer is that the believers’ suffering is full of purpose. Romans 8:28 says that God is working all things together for good for those who love him. This “all things” includes suffering.  Life is going to take many terrible turns, but knowing that these things have meaning and purpose makes it bearable.

3. You’re misinterpreting things here. God was not involved in the death of my sister. God wanted my sister to live, but she decided to take her own life. God is not in control of the well-being of your children either. He has a “hands-off” policy on these types of things.

This response is often referred to as “openness theology.”  Many people take this approach so that they can live with the reality of evil. If God could not have stopped what happened, then he’s acquitted (in their mind) of any wrongdoing. 

However, this is not the God of Christianity. The God of Christianity is sovereign over everything that happens. Daniel 4:34-35 is one of the great passages in all of Scripture speaking of God’s sovereignty:
His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: "What have you done?"
Even Satan has to come to God for permission to act (Job 1:6-12).

This teaching does not mean that evil and suffering are part of God’s perfect plan, but they are a part of his redeeming plan. Death, sin, and suffering are all evil. They were brought into the world when man fell in Eden. But God’s redeeming plan uses sin to right the wrong. This is why God brought the greatest evil in the history of the world on his Son. What seemed to be a defeat when Christ died on the cross was a wonderful expression of God’s love, redemption, and sovereignty introduced, not by the will of man, but by the predetermined plan of God (Acts 4:27-28). God is in control of all things, even our suffering.

My Answer

I don’t know if God will protect your kids in the way that you desire. I really don’t. I am sorry.

I had no guarantees for my friendThere are no prenuptial agreements that we can ask God to sign.
In John 21 Christ has already risen from the grave. He is talking to Peter and has some hard news. He tells Peter, in essence, that he is going to suffer and die for his faith. Peter, curious and somewhat agitated, looks at his friend John, looks back at Christ, and says, “What about him. Is he going to die too?” The Lord’s response to Peter was, “If I want him [John] to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me” (John 21:22). 

 Adapted for my friend's situation we can imagine Christ responding:  You follow me. Take your eyes off the details of the future and you follow me.  Your children are mine and I love them. You follow me. I don’t follow you. You follow me.

We don’t come to Christ because of guarantees of health, wealth, or protection from physical danger. We come to him because he is Lord. We don’t become Christians because of fringe benefits; we become Christians because Christianity is true. We come to Christ and bow our knee knowing he loves us enough to die for us. We come to him knowing that his plan, whatever that may be, is full of love, purpose, and wisdom. We come to him because of the guarantees of the life to come, not the guarantees of this life.

~Michael Patton 

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