Thursday, February 2, 2017

Not all Lepers were healed.

"During the time of Christ, he healed lepers and caused the blind to see. But he didn't heal all of the lepers. Nor cure all of the blind. And we don't know why." This is a quote that I read in the credits of a movie called the Coalville Miracle. I find it pretty thought provoking.

A shallow person might read this and feel a bit angry or resentful at God. If God is all powerful and can stop evil men and bad things from happening, why doesn't he do it? Does he not love all of his children?

And some people encounter this thought and their shallow view of God, as a kindly grandfather figure that keeps a handful of candy in his pocket to give out to especially good little children, falters. Their faith is shaken. They encounter a crisis of faith and some don't recover from this first and inevitable question.

Why does God permit bad things to happen to good people?

The answer is both simple, and profound. I tell a parable of the frost to help answer this questions. The parable goes like this:

There once was a farmer that was in the business of growing peaches. He had worked hard and nurtured and cared for his orchard for many years and this year he would have enough fruit bearing trees to make a profit and pay off his debts at the bank. 
Then there was a late frost. To those not in agriculture, a late frost will damage the buds on the trees. Many of the peaches that would have been borne by those buds would never happen. A good portion of those that did survive would be damaged and misshapen. The financial winning year had been ruined in one night. 
The farmer stopped going to church. After a few weeks, the leader of his congregation came to call. The farmer had this to say. 
"God knows that I can't grow peaches with a late frost." Said the farmer. 
His visitor looked him up and down and replied. "God knows very well what it takes to grow peaches. But he is more interested in growing men. Peaches may not grow with a late frost, but men won't grow without them." 
The farmer kicked at the dirt a bit and then looked up. "I understand what you are telling me. You'll see me in church next week."

For any who missed the point. We don't reach our full potential without some hardships in life. We have to encounter both; times where we have to lift another, and times where we have to be lifted by others. We don't become what God wants us to become without these experiences.

We can't become strong and able to do hard and difficult things by having an easy life where we never encounter hardship or pain.

This is the simple answer.

The deeper answer is a bit more personal. But it's the same principle and the same basic answer.

There was a time in my life when I was making lots of money, everyone in my family was healthy, and the future looked bright. I felt like I was really blessed, and that I had made it to a place of security.

At this time I encountered a person that was stuck. They could not get to a place that would allow them to feed their family and make personal or professional progress. I didn't even hesitate.

I took time off of work and dug into their problems and helped them get to a place where they could help themselves. It was a bunch of work. I spent a bunch of my money. A few times my wife looked at me and asked if I had gone crazy. But I felt the hand of God on my back pushing me forward.

A few years later, I was upside down on my finances. I was desperately trying to pay off debts. I let my car get repossessed and tightened my belt quite a bit to make it by.

Then my wife and I lost a child. At what I thought was the lowest point, I was shown that I could go lower. Then I lost my job.

It was like everything that I had was being attacked. Nothing was safe. Every day I needed more and more and had less and less.

Other people did step in and help me. I'm not keeping score, but I'm sure there are people that felt the hand of God on their shoulders as they helped my family the way I had felt it years earlier.

At this time I made the observation, "I used to think that all of my troubles could be solved with just a little bit of money. Now I have troubles that no money can solve."

I'm not telling this story to brag or to be proud in my humility. I'm saying that I'm the same person in both parts of the story. I had money and health and safety and had enough to freely give to others in need. Then circumstances changed and I needed help, was visited with poverty and death and pain and humiliation.

I know that God allowed both sets of experiences to happen. If I had only had the blessings of health and wealth, I would lack an empathy for those in trials and pain. God is making me into something he needs. He is wise enough to know what I need to become that.

I don't know specifically what God wants to make of me. It may not be something that gets finished in this life. But I love God and trust that he has a plan.

Anger comes from Pride

When I help others, I sometimes see them struggle with being angry. Angry at banks or credit cards.
Angry at landlords or employers. Angry and police or government.

I get caught up in this anger sometimes as well. It never makes me happy. For a time, I tried to have opinions on all the current events and voice my feelings at the top of my social network enhanced lungs. Then I learned that this only made me depressed and unhappy.

I'd rather be at peace, and be happy. I invite you to be happy with me.

Grieve over the fallen, but don't curse those who have caused it. There are plenty of people cursing them without you.

Lift those in need of your help, but don't shout at those that took advantage. There are plenty of people shouting at them without you.

Aid those that need aid, but don't lash out at those that hurt others. There are plenty of people lashing out at them without you.

Anger comes from pride and pride comes from thinking that you are better than those that do wrong in your eyes. Pride comes from judging others, most of the time when we don't know the details.

Peace comes from doing what you can to help others and trusting in the Lord and his plan, and letting others help you when it is offered.

I don't know why all lepers weren't healed. I know that the healing in my life came to me not because I deserved it, but in spite of my not being worthy. I have done little to merit the kindness that is shown to me on a daily basis. The only thing I can do to repay it is to try and show kindness to others, especially when I don't think they deserve it.

So we have the choice to find within ourselves anger or peace. I recommend peace.

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