CAMPBELLTON, New Brunswick, May 1, 2023 – The Bible tells us repeatedly that our lives are a reflection of the choices we make.
If we make godly choices, our lives will be godly.
If we make ungodly choices, our lives be ungodly.
It’s really that simple.
No-one (including God) is doing anything to us; we do it to ourselves.
The good comes from God; the bad comes as a reward for our bad choices.
The world sees life entirely differently. To those in the world, bad things happen not because of bad choices made, but because bad things just happen randomly (no causation), or bad people are doing bad things to you for their own selfish ends, or “fate” causes bad things to happen. These three explanations exonerate you from all bad things that happen to you, placing the blame squarely on external forces (random chance, bad people, and fate). This is how the godless make sense of the world.
But we are not the godless. We do not blame our situation on external forces. Whatever negative circumstances we are experiencing, we either have only ourselves to blame for them, or we’re being tested.
It’s important to distinguish between suffering we’ve brought on ourselves through our wrong choices, and suffering that comes as a test. The whole point of a test is to gauge whether we want what God is offering us or what the world is offering us.
When we suffer because of our own actions, we suffer spiritually as well as physically and emotionally. We have an all-over, all-encompassing bout of suffering. When we experience that state, we know we’ve brought it on ourselves through wrong choices we’ve made. There’s nothing to do in this case except to repent, realign ourselves with God’s will, and endure whatever we’ve brought on ourselves until it’s over (this, too, will pass).
When we suffer because of a test, our physical and emotional states may be affected to some extent, but not our spiritual state. We remain as close to God as ever; there’s no separation between us, as there sometimes appears to be when we suffer because of our own bad choices. Think of Daniel in the lion’s den or Jesus on the cross or Paul throughout his ministry years. They all remained steadfast in their faith, even despite massive physical and emotional challenges.
The bottom line here, for us believers, is choosing to remain close to God, regardless of our circumstances. We will be tested, but more likely we will suffer from the consequences of our own bad choices. Either way, we need to endure to the end of whatever God permits us to suffer, and it will be better for us to endure with God’s help than without it.
Always stay close to God.