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Does Tragedy Come From God?

 
God doesn’t induce tragic pain to bring about some good.  He is able to bring about good without pain.  Just because it seems like the woman’s spiritual growth was a consequence of her husband’s death, we cannot rightly assume that God wanted the husband dead.  That would violate the Bible pattern of God’s good will toward all people.  So even though we admit that God allows us to go through certain seasons of refinement, we also must realize that torture and suffering should never be attributed to God even if it seems to result in a certain merit.
Here is an example of God helping us behind the scenes.  A farmer watched a mocking bird building her nest in a heap of branches pruned from the apple tree beside the house. All day long the bird toiled; in the evening the farmer destroyed the work she had done, scattering tiny twigs about and trampling them under his feet. The next day the bird patiently began building again. Again at evening time her work was destroyed. Judged by bird standards, the man was cruel. The third day she began her nest again, but this time in the rose bush by the kitchen door. In the evening, the farmer smiled on the bird and her work remained. Day after day she continued to build; the nest was completed; the eggs were laid and warmed beneath her bosom. But long before the time for hatching, the pile of branches from which she had been driven had been removed and burned. Had the far seeing farmer allowed the bird to have her way, all of her nest, her little ones, and her hope for the season would have been destroyed. She did not see beyond one day. He saw the end from the beginning. (Goodpaster, p. 2)
But notice, the farmer didn’t hurt the bird, nor her eggs, nor her future.  He only helped redirect her steps.  God’s only involvement in tests and trials is as a Deliverer – One who makes a way for us to escape it.  “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).  Again, the Word says that God will foresee temptation and help us out of temptation but never that God will give it.  If He were to do both, He would be working against Himself.
Remember what Jesus said to Peter before the cross?  He told Peter that “Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail.” (Luke 22:31, 32).  Who tested Peter?  Clearly it was Satan.  The devil is the sifter, the tempter, the afflicter, and Jesus is the Helper.  God was not testing Peter to see if he could hold on to his faith.  It was the devil tempting him to give up his confidence in the Christ and turn from his divine destiny as an apostle.  So if anyone’s faith is being tested, the test is from Satan or the world.
Jesus, Himself, was also tested at the end of His forty days of fasting and praying (Matthew 4, Luke 4), but not by God.  The Holy Spirit led Him to the wilderness to pray and fast, with the final purpose of being tempted and proving His resolve as the One entrusted with God’s power.  But it was the devil who actually tempted Jesus to commit sin.  And Jesus suffered no harm at all.  Instead, Jesus escaped the temptation by knowing the truth and obeying God.  And so can we.  Jesus didn’t give us the example of how to endure through some terrible injury or lengthy depression.  He only gave us the example of how to win – and win fast!  The temptation that Jesus faced was not something that defied God’s covenant like sickness, maiming, or poverty.  It was a thought war with Satan.  And Jesus won it.  This wilderness temptation was the crucial moment where Jesus’ obedience “binds the strong man” so He could continue on for three and one half years  plundering that strong man’s goods.  (There is more on this thought war discussed later.)
What About Jesus?
Actually, if you think about it, Jesus had great faith.  He had the strongest faith of anyone in the Bible.  And He achieved it without terrible tests from Almighty God.  He went through no physical affliction to get there.  He achieved and maintained an absolute confidence in God, His Father, as well as a spiritual maturity, by simply walking with God every day.  He had opportunity to prove His great faith when challenges arose.  And each time He overcame before the challenge turned into suffering.  Jesus is our Christian model.  At least He should be.
God is good and faithful.  And He’s not throwing His people curve balls in life to see how they’ll hold up.

Genesis Ch. 22:1-19  The thing God commanded was a difficult task; he told Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, on the altar.  But Abraham wasn’t afraid to do so, for he believed his God.  He knew God would come through somehow.  He put Isaac on the altar and raised the knife, but the angel of the Lord stopped him.  He had passed the test without any tragedy.  God only wanted him to be willing – not for him to suffer.  He only tested him with words.
Another time God warned the Jews not to listen to the false prophets, for He was watching to see if they loved Him with all their hearts (Deuteronomy 13:3).  He wasn’t really initiating the test.  His test was only the viewing of their response.
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