When “Bad Things” Happen

Today is Sunday, the twenty-fifth of September, 2022, in the twenty-sixth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ find you well and whole, today!

Day 23,572

I’ll be updating Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit after this is completed.


Lord our God, our Father, we look deep into your mighty Word and see the glory of the new world you will create according to your justice and truth. We thank you for giving us this joy on earth in the midst of all our toil and striving. We look deep into your Word. You make all things new. To this hope our lives are directed, to this hope you have called us, and we want to be faithful forever. Praise to your name, for you have already done great things for us! Keep us in your Word. Let many find the light, for in this light they may look to you in simple faith and constancy until the end, when throughout the world we may see your glory and your grace. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more...And he who sat upon the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." Also he said, "Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true." 
(Revelation 21:1, 5 RSV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that things went so very smoothly, yesterday, moving things from Mama’s house to our house
  2. for the two young men who helped us move the heavy stuff
  3. that Jesus Christ will make all things new and that His words are trustworthy and true
  4. that when Jesus appears, we will be like Him
  5. that I am one of God’s children

“Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”
(Luke 9:48 ESV)

Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. . . . We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 
And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. 
(1 John 3:2-3, 11, 14-18, 23-24 ESV)
Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. 
Before the mountains were brought forth, 
or ever you had formed the earth and the world, 
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
(Psalms 90:1-2 ESV)
So teach us to number our days 
that we may get a heart of wisdom. 
Return, O LORD! How long? 
Have pity on your servants! 
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, 
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. 
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, 
and establish the work of our hands upon us; 
yes, establish the work of our hands! 
(Psalms 90:13-14, 17 ESV)

We are all God’s children. We must receive each other in His name. Yes, Jesus was referring to a literal child, at that point, but the lesson goes beyond that. Whoever is the least will be great. Whoever is last will be first.

Why is this so hard for us to grasp? It has become apparent to me that the best measure of peoples’ understanding of this teach of Jesus is seen in the way they drive. I have seen “Christians” share things on Facebook that hurt my soul. They are meant to be funny, but they are not funny to me. “You will run over every traffic cone before I will let you in front of me,” says one meme.

That attitude violates at least two of Jesus’s teachings. 1) the last shall be first and the first shall be last, and 2) “whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

I like this bit about “what we will be has not yet appeared.” It’s true. We have no real clue what we will be like when we meet Jesus, face to face, other than these statements that tell us we will be “like Him.”

And, again, John visits the subject of loving one another. As any frequent reader of this blog knows, this is something that I harp on, constantly. And for good reason, I think. It is something that the Bible harps on, especially in the New Testament. Jesus talks about it a lot. Paul talks about it. James talks about. John talks about it. Over and over and over.

You would think we would have gotten it down by now.

I believe Psalm 90 pinpoints a reason that we might struggle so much with the concept. Verse 14. “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” I believe that if we are satisfied with God’s steadfast love, His chesed, we will find it much easier to love one another.

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.
(Isaiah 43:2 NLT)

This verse gives us beautiful truth; it gives us great encouragement. But part of the truth is in the word “when,” in this verse. It is necessary to notice that it does not say “if.” We are going to go through deep waters, through rivers of difficulty; we are going to walk through fire (hopefully not literally). And some of my favorite Psalm verses, which speak of God’s deliverance, tell us that He will deliver us “out of” our troubles, trials, and tribulations.

God will not keep “bad things” from happening to us. “God did not keep bad things from happening to God himself.” (Tish Harrison-Warren, Prayer in the Night) He has never made any kind of promise that indicates that He would keep bad things from happening to us. But He has promised that He would be with us during those “bad things,” and that we would not be consumed.

Father, I am thankful that I am one of Your children. I am also grateful that I have no issue at all being considered Your “child.” Help me, I pray, continue down this path of being less so that You can be more, of decreasing that You might increase. You have taught me that the last shall be first, and it has translated into other parts of my life. But the humanity within me bucks against that; everything I have seen and learned from this world would have me think the opposite, that I need to be first and make others get behind me. But this is not the teaching of my Savior.

Help me to keep getting better at love others, as well. It is not hard to love others when they are displaying their neediness, their desperation in their circumstances. It is hard to love others when they are displaying their self-confidence and their own lack of love toward others. This is a challenge for me, I confess. It is hard to love a “hater.” Help me with this, Father. It is hard for me to love someone whom I see ridiculing and mocking those with whom they do not agree. Help me with this, Father, because Jesus makes no distinction. I am to love all equally (with the exception that my love for the saints is to be even stronger, and some of those with whom I struggle are, indeed, saints).

I thank You that You are always near, and that You have promised to be with us when we walk through “rivers of difficulty,” and through the fires of oppression. Help us to see “bad things” through Your perspective, rather than strictly our own.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
(2 Corinthians 13:14 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.


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