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If God Is Real, Why Is There So Much Injustice?

Written By Asiri Fernando, Sri Lanka

Asiri graduated from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, USA with a Master of Divinity and is now working for Youth for Christ in Sri Lanka. Asiri is a speaker, Bible teacher and a singer songwriter. Asiri blogs at http://asirifernando.wordpress.com.

We live in a world that’s filled with suffering and injustice. Every day, we read about how racism, rape, and abuse of power is on the rise. It’s no surprise that one of the common objections to Christianity is, “If God is real, why is there so much injustice?”

In my time as a youth worker, I’ve found that some of the deepest suffering that we have to go through often comes at the hands of those around us—whether in the form of being bullied, suffering from abuse, or even being persecuted for the faith.

In the face of such injustice, how can Christians cling on to their faith and not allow these situations to embitter them?

As I groan with God at the pains of this world (Romans 8:22), I am convinced there are two marvelous, unshakable truths about God that can anchor us through storms: the truth that God is sovereign over every circumstance, and that His love is present in the midst of our suffering.

In Genesis 37-50, we see a beautiful picture of God’s sovereignty, or absolute control and rule over all things, painted in the life of Joseph. Throughout Joseph’s life, he was committed to living rightly, but he suffered injustices in various forms.

As a young man in his father’s house, Joseph received the love and blessing of his father, but his brothers hated him, mistreated him, and sold him off into slavery.

In Potiphar’s house in Egypt, Joseph conducted himself with holiness, yet He was falsely accused and thrown into prison.

Even in prison, he was trustworthy and kind to those around him. However, his kindness was forgotten, and he was left in prison (ESV: “the pit”) for two years!

Joseph was repeatedly and severely a victim at the hands of people who unjustly served him hatred, mistreatment, and abuse. Yet Scripture also makes it clear that in all that Joseph went through, God was with him and blessed him. Many of us might wonder, “Can we consider all that Joseph has gone through a blessing?”

Eventually, God raised Joseph to the highest office in Egypt, where Pharaoh tells Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no one shall lift up hand or foot in all the land of Egypt” (Genesis 41:44). In the midst of all that he was going through, Joseph probably would never have imagined that he would one day be exalted to this position—but his story is evidence of God’s perfect plan, sovereignty, and love in the midst of suffering.

It is while Joseph is holding this high position, that his brothers come to Egypt, completely at the nation’s mercy to help them survive a famine in their homeland (Genesis 42:1-6). Despite the opportunity Joseph has to exact revenge on the brothers that betrayed him, the story goes on to show Joseph’s great love for his own brothers—a love that had no room for bitterness (Genesis 45:15).

At the end of the story, Joseph makes two great statements of faith in response to his brothers’ pleadings for mercy that can help us understand how we can respond to the injustices we see in the world, especially the ones that are personally inflicted on us:

 

1. Am I in the place of God?

After the death of their father, Joseph’s brothers expected wrath from him, but instead Joseph’s response was, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God?” (Genesis 50:19a).  That response made it clear that Joseph harbored no bitterness or anger against his brothers—but more importantly, that he recognized that it wasn’t his role to bring about justice. That was God’s part.

One thing that breaks the hold of bitterness against those who have harmed us, is knowing that God will ensure justice against all offenses. This is why Paul says, “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord” (Romans 12:19). The world is unjust but God is perfectly just and has also “set a day for his final justice to take place” (Acts 17:31). This is a truth which answers a lot of questions and releases us from any unease and bitterness about the seeming injustice we are experiencing.[1]

 

2. You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good

Joseph’s second statement of faith is, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good . . .” (Genesis 50:20a).

We all suffer because of sin—at times suffering comes about through evil systems, unfortunate circumstances, our own flesh, or direct attacks from Satan. The last season in my life was a difficult one, in which I experienced prolonged illness and injury to my family, ministry obstacles, and dark nights of the soul.

But what kept me going was the knowledge that God is sovereign and is working! He is moving things forward. He is in absolute control even during the darkest moments of our lives. Oh, the joy of knowing that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28)! So we persevere with total trust in a God who is faithful. His promises are true. His steadfast love is better than life.

 

There is good to look forward to (even if it’s eternal)

As we can see from the life of Joseph, accepting the sovereignty of God provides a deep sense of security and peace, even amidst times of difficulty and unrest. The good will come, in this life, and also most definitely in the next. 2 Timothy 2:12 says, “If we endure (through hardships), we will reign with him”. What kind of grace is this? Like Joseph who reigned in the courts of Egypt, we will also one day reign with Christ.

Fixing our eyes on the sovereignty of God strengthens us to be obedient through hardships. We know that God is working for our good. He is greater than our circumstances. Therefore, we can be glad because we know that “the Lord reigns” (Psalm 97:1, 99:1) and He will guard “the lives of his faithful ones” (Psalm 97:10).

Joseph’s life might have been tainted with suffering, but it was also a life that was under the absolute control of God, who used Joseph’s circumstances to fulfill His purposes—for Joseph’s good, for the salvation of many, and for His glory.

This is why we can trust Him even when we’re faced with unjust circumstances—in His sovereignty, He will use them for our good.

 

[1] We also know the glorious truth that Jesus bore our punishment and satisfied the wrath of God on the cross, a justice borne by Christ, and a beautiful justification (no condemnation) appropriated to our enemies who turn to Christ. Our greatest desire when loving our enemies is to see them turn to Christ.

In God’s Hands

Title: In God’s Hands
Materials: Digital illustration
Artwork by: YMI X Eun Ae (@ohjoytree)
Music from Bensound.com

Feeling down? We hope this video lifts your spirits.

 

 

 

My Close Shaves with Earthquakes

Written By Joey Choo, Malaysia, originally in Simplified Chinese

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Before and After the earthquake in 2011, ChristChurch Cathedral Left photo taken by: Joey Choo

Recently, the news has been abuzz with reports of earthquakes. Just this morning, I stumbled on news about two earthquakes—one striking New Zealand and the other Japan. Already, my heart was gripped by news of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Christchurch, New Zealand one week ago.

Although Malaysia (where I’m from) is a disaster-free country, I’ve had the fortune (or misfortune) of experiencing several strong earthquakes during my time in other countries. Hence, hearing earthquake-related news always evokes many memories.

The first time I experienced an earthquake was when I was attending university in Taiwan in 1999. I had just arrived for a week when 921 Earthquake—as it was locally known—struck. The tragedy in Nantou County resulted in 2,415 deaths, more than 11,000 people injured, and 29 others missing. More than 50,000 houses collapsed and another 53,000 were damaged. Although I was situated in Taipei, far from the epicenter, I had a taste of the destructive nature of the earthquake. I was in my school dormitory at the time when the power supply was suddenly cut off. All the doors, windows and chairs started rattling and I almost got thrown off my seat.

When I watched the news the next day, I saw images of the devastation: buildings had collapsed and bodies had been buried under the rumble. As a result of the quake, many people lost their homes and loved ones. How helpless and small we human beings are when faced with the force of nature! It made me realize how fragile life is, regardless of who we are and what we’ve achieved. All that we have accumulated can be easily wiped out in one swift disaster. The Bible is spot on when it says, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Matthew 16:26) Indeed, it’s not worth exchanging our precious lives with the temporal things of this world.

That was just one episode. During my five years in Taiwan, disasters happened almost every year. In addition to earthquakes, there were also typhoons and the outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (also known as SARS) epidemic. One of my most harrowing experiences was when a 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck Hualien on 31 March, 2002. The effects of the quake were even felt at one of its most iconic landmarks in Taipei—where the skyscraper Taipei 101 is situated.

Then, the skyscraper was still under construction and the strong tremors sent a large crane on the 56th floor crashing down to ground level, crushing many cars and killing people in the process. Standing a few hundred meters away, I saw the surrounding buildings swaying and witnessed that horrific episode with my own eyes; it was a scene I would never forget.

Years later, I had another close shave with an earthquake. It was 4 September 2010 and I was on a working holiday in New Zealand’s South Island. Then, I was living in a small town close to Christchurch and planned to move downtown to look for a job.  A friend of mine from Nelson (more than 400km north of Christchurch) came to visit me out of the blue and invited me to look for a job in the north where she lived. I was clueless as to what to do. As I prayed, God impressed on me to leave Christchurch and follow my friend. That’s how I got away unscathed once again—this time from a devastating earthquake that hit Christchurch two weeks later.

ChristChurch_Cathedral_-_2011_earthquake_damage

ChristChurch Cathedral the day after the February 2011 earthquake collapsed its spire. Photo taken from: Wikipedia

 

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After the earthquake in Christ Church City Center. Photo By: Joey Choo

 

It was truly God’s miraculous protection and guidance that saved me each time and I can say confidently that our God is true and trustworthy. Just as Psalm 46:1-3 says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” These close brushes have deeply impressed on me the need to trust and depend on God, because He alone is the true creator and holds our lives in His hands.

Whenever earthquakes or natural disasters occur, I am also reminded that the end times are near. “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains” (Mark 13:8). As such, I need to be watchful, pray, and to preach the gospel because the Lord’s return is near. I pray that every child of God will learn to worship Him reverently, and give all glory and honor to the Lord Almighty.

ODJ: More than Walking on Water

August 18, 2016 

READ: Matthew 14:22-33  

Then the disciples worshipped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed (v.33).

While doing research for a sermon, I stumbled upon a curious creature—the “Jesus Christ lizard”. That’s another name for the common basilisk, a small lizard from South America that’s able to run on its rear legs on the surface of water. This might seem like a miracle, but the basilisk is able to accomplish this feat because of the skin between its toes, allowing it to float on the water for the briefest of moments. Without those flaps of skin, the common basilisk would be, well, common!

Jesus’ walking on the Sea of Galilee in Matthew 14 was definitely not common. His miracle wasn’t about biological design, nor was it some kind of trick. When Jesus “came towards [the disciples], walking on the water” (Matthew 14:25), it revealed His authority over the natural world.

For example, in Luke 5:3-10, He provided a miraculous catch of fish for Simon Peter. And in Matthew 8:23-27, as the disciples quivered in a boat being tossed by waves, He said, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” He then rebuked the waves and “there was a great calm”. Jesus wasn’t simply showing that He could do amazing things; He was demonstrating His power over creation itself. His ability was derived from His identity.

We can develop an incomplete view of Jesus when we focus solely on His miraculous powers. In this way, He becomes a kind of superhero who merely did impressive things that normal human beings can’t do. But this passage reminds us that Jesus’ ability to do miracles was derived from His authority over all things. In other words, He can do all because He’s Lord over all. Today, let’s praise Him, not just for what He can do, but for who He is!

—Peter Chin

365-day plan: John 11:1-36

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Read John 21:6 to once again see Jesus’ authority over nature. 
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