David prayed and fasted, pleading for the Lord to intervene in his infant son’s illness. But “on the seventh day the child died” (II Samuel 12:18a, NLT). The king’s response? “David got up from the ground, washed himself, put on lotions, and changed his clothes. He went to the Tabernacle and worshiped the Lord” (II Samuel 12:20a).
David accepted what God had allowed. He didn’t blame God; he didn’t turn his back on God. But I’ve talked to many people who have; they’ve given up on God after the death of a child or after some other horrible tragedy.
Realistically, though, when anyone turns from Christ, to whom does he turn? Jesus watched many followers walk away during His earthly ministry; so many, in fact, that “Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, ‘Are you also going to leave?’” (John 6:67). To which Simon Peter responded, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life” (John 6:68a).
There are only two forces at work in this world: good and evil. We follow one or the other. There’s no fence to straddle; there’s no gray area. Too many people sitting in church on Sunday are doing simply that: sitting in church. They aren’t worshiping God. And they sure aren’t living to honor Him once they walk out those doors. Thinking a church service equals serving God, they live and die never knowing the Truth.
Each and every person on this planet serves either good or evil. As Jesus worded it, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24a and Luke 16:13a).
When you turn from God, you turn from good. When you turn from good, you turn to evil. There’s simply no other option. Which is why David’s response to his child’s death is such a great lesson in how we should respond to tragedy. I believe David knew that if he didn’t worship God immediately, the longer he waited, the harder it would get.
Kind of like missing church one Sunday. And then another and then another. The longer you wait to go back, the harder it is to get there. And the longer you remain angry at God – or at anyone, for that matter – the more Satan digs his claws in and keeps you bitter and miserable.
As I said a couple of days ago, God created a perfect world, but gave His ultimate creation, mankind, free will to choose right or wrong – and they choose wrong. Sin corrupted God’s perfection, bringing into the world all the evils we see from sickness to murder. While it’s never God’s perfect will for a person to be sick, hurt or wronged, in God’s permissive will, He allows “Satan, the ruler of this world” (Jesus speaking, John 12:31b), to have a certain measure of power until Christ returns to rule and reign with His people.
But God does not initiate evil. After all, “God is love” (I John 4:8b and 16b). He doesn’t have love; He is love. Love Incarnate. And “He is the Rock; His deeds are perfect. Everything He does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong” (Deuteronomy 32:4a). And He’s worthy of all our devotion.
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates