another prophetic word

jonacufflast week, jon acuff rocked my world.  again.  jon is hilariously funny and usually chronicles life from a uniquely christian perspective–the inside stuff no one else talks about, saucy and irreverent.  once a week, however, jon steps away from the comedic relief to present what he calls “serious wednesdays.”  i gotta’ tell you, for someone  so consistently funny, jon is incredibly deep.  i might even say he is anointed.

today i want to pass along a portion of jon’s post from last wednesday.  i feel like a creep regurgitating someone else’s stuff (especially since stuff christians like is on my blogroll), but this is just too good to pass up.  i shared it with my church family on sunday and i just can’t get away from it.

The truth is, I don’t have a fancy, easy answer to the question “Why do bad things happen to good people?” All I have is my own question:

Does God have the right to crack the vessel if breaking it is the fastest way to share what He poured into us?

The question is not “Does He love us?” My life circumstances do not determine that. He is love. Regardless of what happens to me in this life, that is who He is and who He will always be.

The question is not “Do we have to fake smile through pain?” I don’t think so. I’ve had friends that have buried their children and seen moms fall to cancer 5 weeks after being diagnosed. There are many, many things in this world that suck and will continue to do so. I would never tell friends who experienced tragedies to turn a frown upside down or whitewash the year my whole life fell apart with instant rainbows and fluffy clouds.

The question is not “If God is supposed to work all things out for the good, why is this situation so painful?” It’s His definition of good, not mine, that I must live with. Thankfully, mercifully, beautifully, He doesn’t promise to work things out according to my understanding of “good.” His good will always exceed mine because He can define “good” across the solar system and I can only define it with what I see with my own eyes.

The question is not, “Can I trust a God that allows bad things to happen to good people?” Although that’s tempting to get stuck on. Sometimes when we say, “How can I serve a God that would allow bad things to happen,” we miss what we might be really saying. I think what we mean is, “I could only serve a God that is good or loving according to my own personal definition of what those words mean.” But that’s kind of terrifying to me. I don’t want to worship a God who’s power is limited to my ability to understand it or who’s goodness is limited to my ability to define it. I get “good” and “bad” wrong all the time.

I thought starting my own church advertising agency was a good thing. Instead I lost $4,000 and had to apologize to the church my grandma attended for 30 years when my business partner took the money. (Turns out he’s a broken human like me, but I got nothing but love for him now.)

I thought getting rejected from the University of North Carolina was a bad thing. Instead I met my hott with two t’s wife at Samford University and started a writing career I’ve loved.

I am not equipped to tell God how He should be or understand if something He’s doing is good or bad. And the biggest truth, the one that’s easiest to miss, is that in any given situation, God is working out of love. He’s ridiculous that way. On the surface it might feel like the worst pain we’ve ever known, the darkest skies that could ever cover our tiny planet, but all the while, God is calling us, urging us, drawing us to His love. It makes no sense, but it’s true…

The reality is, the debate about why bad things happen to good people will probably rage on for the rest of time and that’s OK. Granted, Testamints could end it today, but again, they’re not picking up on my hints.

But wrestling with the question above has helped me reframe some things in my own life and it’s what I’ll leave you with today:

Does God have the right to crack the vessel if breaking it is the fastest way to share what He poured into us?

so then, must i embrace the crisis that is bringing brokenness into my life?  shall i celebrate the season of spiritual dryness that brings doubt and confusion in the hope that intimacy with god may result?  do i have the faith to rest in god when my prayers go unanswered and he is nowhere to be found?

i suppose that depends on whether or not i want jesus to be in control of my life, or me.

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