Tuesday, July 28, 2009


By Bill Colburn

There are fewer things that make me angry these days, than in earlier years. For instance, how people label me or the things they do to hurt me hardly appear as a blip on my radar anymore. Such things, of course, used to immediately raise my hackles - insanely so. As I have gotten older and somewhat wiser - I hope - I find myself far more able to quickly reframe situations. I consider the 'source', I better understand what drives others to say and do as they do, and - more importantly - I have a picture of Christ that I am passionately trying to emulate by letting him reveal himself through me in patience, kindness, and gentleness - independent of how others treat me.

None of this is to say that I like what happens around me or that I never blow a gasket over issues. I'm still a work in progress. Jesus still sits waiting for his portrait to be painted in me - as someone once wrote. Additionally, I confess, all bets are off if anyone hurts one of my family members. I, without apologies, make no promises to be 'nice' if you hurt one of my family members. I don't even feel a need to work on this attitude. I'll leave apocalyptic, end of time, vengenace to God in all other cases, but this.

I still wrestle, of course, with the way God doesn't intervene today. Our all wise, loving, omnipotent, omniscient Creator God allows the innocent to suffer - regularly. He expects me to intervene with those who are helpless, yet he doesn't. I often can't, he can, yet - again - doesn't. I don't always know that something malicious is happening, so can act. He knows, doesn't act, doesn't inform me so I can act. Big questions here. Why does He allow little ones to be exploited to such a degree that the rest of their lives are full of misery and dysfunction and rejection of belief in a loving higher power?. I don't understand why God doesn't at least warn parents that a child molester is coming for their precious one. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it is not that he doesn't, but can't. Yet, I don't buy that either.

In my devotional reading this morning from 2 Peter 2, I read about God intervening to protect his people from their enemies. I found myself reacting angrily - not to the evils of this world - but against God. It was a strange moment. It happened with this text: The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial. (v9). I caught myself saying, cynically under my breath, sure, he knows how, but he just doesn't do it. I'm sure this mornings angst on these issues is related to a discussion last evening about the number of church folk who are currently dealing with having been molested as children. It hurts their picture of God. It destroys their current relationships. It all seems so unnecessary - if God had found a way to intervene beyond the cross.

I understand sin. I'm less angry with folks who do 'evil' simply because I understand why what they do is a reaction to what has been done to them. I somewhat understand the etiology of sinful acts and assume that all of us will act sinfully in a myriad of ways simply because we have a sinful nature. I understand that we have no choice except to sin - until we are partakers of the divine nature and actually have a choice not to sin. In other words, sin makes sense - I've been majoring in it for my whole life - so I expect sin. No surprises there. Little anger arises when the expected is realized.

I don't understand righteousness. I'm more angry when the expected is not realized. It confuses me when righteousness seems unrighteous. Yet, to conclude that God is not righteous, that his refusal to use his vast resources to intervene is simply an act of divine selfishness, pre-occupation, and/or a massive cosmic bait and switch scheme - seems equally preposterous and distasteful. Thus, God's inactions according to my expectations remain something I don't understand.

My faith must reside in the ever-so-frustrating tension between understanding and not understanding. Meanwhile, in this world full of the sin we have all come to take for granted, believers cry out, how long o Lord?


  1. "Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts." (Jer. 2:19).

    Beside its directly personal approach, this verse says something as a general principle. That is, that we can learn of God through His own description of Himself, His word--of what He is, or we can neglect His word and learn of Him through this world of sin--of what He is not.

    Wickedness will teach us of the King of righteousness, and of His enemy. Why doesn't He spare the world of the curse? Why must the poor be ever with us, as Jesus said?

    "And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
    Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." (Jn. 9:2,3).

    God has left this world full of thorns and thistles, not primarily to make people miserable, but so that we can appreciate His goodness when He gives it. If it weren't for the precious lambsof a first year living with a family for 4 days before its sacrifice, the sinners' hard hearts would never have been affected by a knowledge of sin and been brought to repentance.

    Those we see as precious, little children, even our own family members, who are hurt, are God's only effective tool to get to our hard hearts. Let's be thankful to Him for that and redouble our efforts to come to the aid of those who have been damaged by Satan for our stony hearts' sakes.

    The crucifixion of God's dear Son is the ultimate precious soul being hurt by sin--your sin and mine. Let's give the Son our full focus and let His death overcome us and answer all our questions of this life of sin and sorrow.

    Let's reinflate the Adventist wheel.


  2. Dear Biking,
    Thank you for your spiritual answer to Bill's honest blog about the existence of sin. I don't think there is any answer that we can comprehend now. This is especially difficult for those who do not acknowledge the existence of an evil adversary in the cosmos. Though the devil is only a partial answer, it is an important one.
    I have found the best answer for myself is to understand that all evil done against God's little ones is only temporary and won't be remembered in the new earth. Perhaps those who die early suffering in poverty will turn out to be more fortunate than those of us who had everything. I think of the parable of Lazarus and the richman--Lazarus was saved apparently because of his suffering yet faithfulness on earth.
    I believe that God is more compassionate than we can possibly imagine and his salvation more broad. I would go so far as to say He died for all and we are saved (including children) until and unless we reject Jesus and/or that God is love and reflect it.