[Willow Creek Association] 1998-02-18 - Hey God, What is Going on Here?

During the past two months several events have happened in my world to cause me to drop to my knees and say, "Hey God, what is going on here? Help me understand." It all started one Friday morning when I found out a neighbor and life-long acquaintance died at the age of 45 in his sleep. Tommy left behind a wonderful wife and twenty-year-old son you would all be proud to call your own. Their son plays college football for a top-five team in the country and will surely play professional football. Tommy and his wife traveled to every game for the past two years. They were a model Christian family in every way. "Hey God, what's going on here?"

The next day, a new church member and in my opinion a brand new Christian died of a stroke at age 70. Jerry could have done so much for the cause of Christ. My first encounter with Jerry was during our Orientation Sunday School Class. I was visiting the class to encourage the members to become involved in a small group at our church. Jerry was a "skeptic" and "spiritual tire-kicker" and a confrontational man at the time. He promptly told me that small groups would not work and that the church was "haphazard." Many months later Jerry through talking with our Pastor and others, finally let Jesus in his life; this was two weeks before his death. Jerry would have been a modern-day Paul. "Hey God, what's going on here?"

This past Friday morning at 9 a.m. my phone rang at work; another friend had just died of a heart attack at age 54. Everette had been sober for the past 10 years and during the past year was finally back on his feet financially and relationally with others. His business was going well and he had gained the respect of his peers as a Real Estate instructor. Just last week, the North Carolina Real Commission asked him to teach the teachers of Real Estate courses in NC. No higher honor could be given. "Hey God, what's going on here?"

Several other events similar to the above have happened lately. Finally I just yelled out to God, "WHY DO YOU LET THESE THINGS HAPPEN?" God answered with this passage:

Isaiah 58:8-9 (NCV) The LORD says, "My thoughts are not like your thoughts. Your ways are not like my ways. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

Did God just say, "let's see this week I will give out two heart attacks and one stroke to some good folks?" Of course not! But God did know these events were going to happen. His ways are not like our ways. Look what God did in the lives of my three friends in the preceding years.

A year ago Tommy's wife lost her job that she held for the past 15 years. Two years ago their son earned a well deserved full football scholarship to college. Tommy gave up responsibilities as a High School Athletic Director and went back to teaching so he would have more time to follow his son's football. Interestingly his wife commented last week that she was so glad she lost her job a year ago, because she and Tommy were able to spend so much time together during his last year of life. "Oh, now I see God, now I think I see your ways."

Jerry's wife commented a few weeks ago that God had sent them here from West Virginia so that Jerry could become a Christ-follower. She had been praying for him for twelve years to accept Jesus. She also remarked that she could not cope with the loss if she was still in West Virginia without a church family. Her small group has rallied around her and giving her great Christian support and love. She is comforted greatly by the fact that Jerry finally accepted Christ and is in heaven today. Oh, now I see God, now I see your ways.

Everette's passing is so recent, I haven't seen God's way yet. I tried to impact his life with my business practices and advice to him. I am sure soon God's way will be revealed to me, but at the funeral home Friday night, his wife hugged me and said, "you will never know what you meant to Everette." I guess I won't know. But I have learned something over the past couple of months. God grace is sufficient.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NCV) But he said to me, "My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you."

You know what else I have learned? God does not cause bad things to happen to people. God certainly knows what is going to happen and I believe with all my heart that God prepares us for all the events in our lives. God made it possible for Tommy and his wife to have a year together with their son. God made it possible for their last year together to be their best. God made it possible for Jerry to be in a place where Christ would become real to him and he would accept Christ's invitation to be his savior. God made it possible for Jerry wife to be surrounded by loving Christian friends. God made it possible for her to cope with his sudden death. God made it possible for Everette to get his life back in order. To have a great relationship with his wife and to get them back to financial stability. You know what else I learned? I learned that Romans 8:28 is still in the Bible.

Romans 8: 28 (NCV)We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him. They are the people he called, because that was his plan.

I think I understand what's going on here now Lord. Thanks.


Dear Lord, thanks for being patient with us when we don't understand why things happen. Thanks for showing us that Your ways are higher than our ways. Help us to be sensitive to Your awesome wisdom. Helps us to realize in the worst of times that ALL things You do work for our good. Help us to do Your plan for our lives. In Christ's name we pray, Amen.

David