Jesus' wisdom when bad things happen

Posted Aug 12, 2019

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Daily Scripture

Luke 13:1-5

1 Some who were present on that occasion told Jesus about the Galileans whom Pilate had killed while they were offering sacrifices. 2 He replied, “Do you think the suffering of these Galileans proves that they were more sinful than all the other Galileans? 3 No, I tell you, but unless you change your hearts and lives, you will die just as they did. 4 What about those eighteen people who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them? Do you think that they were more guilty of wrongdoing than everyone else who lives in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you, but unless you change your hearts and lives, you will die just as they did.”

John 9:1-3

1 As Jesus walked along, he saw a man who was blind from birth. 2 Jesus’ disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned so that he was born blind, this man or his parents?” 3 Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents. This happened so that God’s mighty works might be displayed in him.”

Reflection Questions

People, including Jesus' disciples, often made assumptions about “why” some Galileans had been killed by Roman soldiers or a man had been blind from birth. “People often assumed that, at least in many cases, those who suffered were being punished for sin.” * Jesus’ reply in both cases showed that he knew that God does not cause tragedy and suffering as divine punishment or object lesson, that evil can strike at random. Jesus was not interested in assigning blame, but in bringing healing.

  • Much of our legal language calls floods, tornadoes and other disasters “acts of God.” If, as Jesus taught, collapsing towers or killings by foreign soldiers are not “acts of God,” what does cause them? What do you think Jesus would tell a grieving relative of someone killed in this type of tragedy? If God did cause events like destructive hurricanes or children’s deaths from disease or violence, wouldn’t that mean we are working against God’s purpose if we seek to prevent or relieve the victims’ suffering?
  • In John 9, Jesus resisted the disciples’ effort to sort out whose “sin” was to blame for the man’s blindness. He instead looked forward to how God’s power could work in the man’s life. What difficulties and challenges are you facing? How can you open “the eyes of your heart” to recognize and respond to God’s power at work in and through you, in hard times as well as good ones?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, when bad things happen you weep with me, because our world’s sickness and violence grieve you. Teach me to trust that you are not the source of my pain, but the one who promises healing and hope. Amen.


* Zondervan, NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, eBook (Kindle Location 233562). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

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Ashley Morgan Kirk

Ashley Morgan Kirk

Ashley is the High School Pastor at rezlife Leawood. After seven years of higher ed in religion, she finally understands that she can't figure out God (no matter how hard she tries). She’s leaning into the challenge to move from a thinking-based faith to loving God with both her head and heart.

My heart has broken open for the families of Myiesha and Erin this past month. Myiesha was the 16-year-old cousin of a family friend of ours. She was shot and killed 5 or so weeks ago. My husband Ryan just visited her grave to replenish the flowers there in these last couple weeks.

Last weekend Erin, the 25-year-old daughter of Pastor Tom Langhofer here at Resurrection, was struck by a stray bullet and killed. I watched so many tears fall at church over the past two weekends, especially from the pastors and the people who work closely with Tom.

Myiesha’s family is a family I know. Erin’s family is a family we all know at Resurrection. They are forever marked by the cause of these deaths.

They are, and rightfully so, struck with the intense grief that uniquely comes if you have to bury your child. 

In the face of such things, I ask the human question: “why?” I almost immediately want to look for a singular person or reason to blame. Sometimes I’ve even blamed God, wondering why the God of the universe who created us and loves us could let this happen. Yet my individual and our collective responsibility is often overlooked. God isn’t the one to blame. God actually knows the traumatic loss of a child. God watched his son be killed in the most violent of ways. God saw people label his son as a threat that needed to be removed. Yet Scripture reveals that in response to the violent and evil choices of humans, God weeps. God weeps for us. God weeps with us. And God also weeps because He wants so much more for us in our shared human life.

In El Paso & Dayton, people know those families too. They are intensely grieving. Just as I know with Myiesha & Erin, these are real people who have been killed. Theirs are real stories of loss and tragedy, not just sensational news about society to disappointedly reflect upon in small talk. Their lives aren’t honored when we don’t allow ourselves to feel the weight of their loss so that the heaviness can change our hearts and spur us to action.

From afar, it has been easy for me to feel as if this societal problem couldn’t be that big and doesn’t really affect me. Yet I’m currently witnessing families grieving close to home. It’s gotten real for me. It’s gotten real for us.

Let’s weep with others, as God does. Let’s join local experts in their efforts to make change. May our hearts be troubled by the human lives lost nationally and locally, both those we know personally, and perhaps even more, those we don’t know personally. May this shape our work in closing the gap between what is and what should be.

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