Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Heartache and Sin

My heart is aching. 

There has been much tragedy recently among people I know, as well as devastation due to wrong choices. This has caused me to reflect on and evaluate life, faith and this world. I have been in a sort of crisis of faith. Not in the sense of losing my faith in God but in wrapping my mind around how these things can happen and how to reconcile it all with the character of God. I went through something similar when my sister told me about her contracting HIV in Zambia. Struggling through questions of life and faith is a very healthy and beneficial experience.  We have many biblical examples of this (Jacob, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jonah to name a few). 

The week before mother's day, a friend from college and Deaf ministry was killed in a car accident. She was 26 years old, married to a worship pastor and has a two year old little boy. She was passionate for the Lord and full of joy. 

On a completely different note, in the past two months I have had TWO friends that have been accused of having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a student. These were normal, usually responsible moms.  One of them was even named Teacher of the Year last year! When I see stories like this in the news, I think that person must be crazy to have done that! But when it is someone that you know and have been friends with since 4th grade, it makes you really wonder.  

I have questioned God. Why did this happen? How is this for the best of a two year old to grow up without his mom? What about the kids of the teachers that will find out someday about what their mom did? What about the spouses involved? What about the kids that were harmed? Is God truly good? How can normal people make such wrong decisions? Why do bad things happen to good people? 

God's Word has plenty to say about all of this.  

There is Evil in this world because of sin. We will have trouble and face heartache but Jesus has overcome it all!
Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)
We eagerly wait and groan and long for our eternal home in Heaven. 
"We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:22, 23 NIV84)
This world is not my home. Followers of Christ are called aliens and strangers in this world throughout the Bible. We do not belong here. Jesus is getting heaven ready for us! 
"In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you." (John 14:2 NIV)
Heaven will be a place of no heartache, no evil, no tears, no pain, no sickness!
"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3, 4 NIV)
I have been shaken up over the last year with so many BIG things going on. Yet I still wholeheartedly know my God is good, holy, omnipotent, omniscient and His ways cannot be explained to our feeble human minds. 
"You are good, and what you do is good... (Psalm 119:68 NIV)
“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons;he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things;he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him. (Daniel 2:20-22 NIV)
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8, 9 NIV)

Be encouraged and take heart! 


  1. Hi Steph,
    I completely understand, as the sin of the world is overwhelming at times. Our job is to keep our eyes on Jesus so that we can stay in a place of hope and peace. The more I see and hear, the more I recognize my dependency on the Lord--which is where He wants us. The reality is that we live in a fallen world. Prayer,intercession and loving others is crucial! It's so important to see people as Jesus sees them and to meet people where they are! Remember, people will know Christ by our love! Love, Aunt Sharon

  2. Stephanie,
    I was raised to believe all of the things you write in this blog... all of the trite, pre-programmed answers that I knew would be in this blog when I saw the title of it. As you can probably already tell, I don't hold to those beliefs any longer. There are a number of reasons why, one of which is that I don't believe God punishes people for wrong choices. Do you actually think that the loving God that you claim to believe in allowed your sister to contract a terminal illness because she had sex? You think she is being punished for a poor choice... I think she was the victim of statistics. She was poorly taught about HIV and "risky behavior" and contracted HIV. If she had contracted HIV through a blood transfusion would you still think that God was punishing her? She had sex before she went to Africa, do you think God punished her for that too? Where does the line get drawn? And if your world-view says that all sin is sin - no sin is bigger or greater than another, why don't you get HIV for thinking bad thoughts? Do you really believe in a God who punishes some people for some things but doesn't punish others for other things? Shouldn't your "just God" punish everyone equally if He's truly just?
    Now don't get me wrong, I believe in God, I just don't believe in the boxed up, Baptist version of God that you are displaying here. I believe in a God who wants only good for his world and does not have to give out punishments because bad things happen all on their own. The God I'm starting to know now, finally, is one who is full of love and forgiveness. He doesn't feel the need to dwell on mistakes and "sins" as that doesn't help anyone. I went through the worst times of my life and most of my pain, guilt and shame was heaped on me from my family and my church. They made me feel like I was worthless because my life no longer fit into their idea of what a "good Christian" should look like. So much so that I tried to end my life. It wasn't until I found a new group of Christians who taught me that God doesn't want us to judge one another. He doesn't want us to look at situations and say, "well, that happened because you sinned." It's just not necessary. God is all about love and all anyone wants in this whole world is to love and be loved. It was amazing to me that when I stepped out of the "church world" I was living in and started seeing people as just that - someone who is seeking to be loved - my whole personality changed. I stopped being hard and judgmental and started being able to give a person some room to be just a person who wants to be loved.
    I guess all I'm saying is... if you weren't the person in the situation that you are so quick to judge - your sister or the teachers you speak about - you shouldn't pretend to think that you know the whole story and no matter what you shouldn't judge. I know from personal experience that I have gotten into situations that I never dreamed of being in. During those times you know what I didn't need? I didn't need someone to tell me how terrible I was - I already knew. All I wanted was for someone to tell me that I was still loved - even when I was unlovely. That was all I wanted and it was the only thing that my Christian family and friends would not give. So for me it's not so much about why do bad things happen as why do Christians feel the need to judge one another when they do.

    1. My response to this is posted here because it was so long:


  3. Anonymous,

    Are you not judging Stephanie, while at the same time telling her not to judge others? Just a quick observation!

  4. To Anonymous:
    I didn't read anywhere in Stephanie's post where she seemed to be judging anyone. I also see nowhere did she say or imply that our heartache is a direct result of sin. Yes, often times our sin leads to/requires consequences. I believe that sometimes we create our own heartache because of our sin, and I also believe that God is loving, and wants to lavish his children with mercy and grace! I believe all Stephanie is trying to say is that no one is exempt from bad, heartbreaking events. I had a miscarriage...God didn't allow that because I had sin in my life! My father-in-law died too young of cancer...God didn't allow that to happen to punish his sin.

    Thank you for the reminders straight from God's word, that, yes, this world is full of sin, consequences, and heartbreak, but our loving and powerful God holds us through it all!

  5. To Anonymous,

    The first thing that I thought of when you described your God was a teddy bear like image. I do not believe that is the vision of himself that he wants his children to perceive. The Bibile clearly states that he is a jealous God and that he is a God to be feared and reverenced. I feel that these qualities get left out of the picture all too often. It is not about hugs, kisses, lollipops and rainbows that so many of todays preachers set it out to be. Just as in life in general, there are consequences for your actions. That is inevitable. It is also this way in your daily walk with the Lord. I am not saying that a conseqence of Jessica's sin was that God said ok you are going to contract HIV from this one sin. I am reminded myself that God knew before Jessica was even conceived that he knew what she would go through in her life. Nothing suprises God and he doesn't sit back and say ok now since ou chose to do this, I am going to let this happen to you. That is not how he works.

    Stephanie, I appreciate this blog. So many times it is easy for us to say why did God do this to such a person. I have to remind myself that he allows even the things we feel are tragedies in order to bring us closer to Him and for His glory.

  6. Dear anonymous,
    I hear a lot of hurt in what you have written here. I hope not to make light of that hurt, but I do have some questions. You write:

    "I was raised to believe all of the things you write in this blog...all the trite, preprogrammed answers that I knew would be in this blog when I read the title of it."

    My first question is, as someone who has cultivated a heart for loving and accepting people without judgement could it be that you were a bit quick to decide what you would find in Stephanie's blog? Based on the title?

    Secondly, you refer to Stephanie's pondering of issues of life and faith as, "trite and pre-programmed". Is it possible that Stephanie is pouring out her heart ( and heartache) because she too is one of those people you described? You know, the ones who are just needing someone to connect with them as a person who needs to be loved? Even in the midst of HER life's turmoil? Is it possible that your responses of "trite and pre-programmed" to her obvious vulnerability were a bit harsh?

    And now my two cents ( as inconsequential as they may be)...

    It seems that many broken people have come into your life (in fact, according to God's word, they all were!). I hear you saying that you were treated very poorly...I truly hate that for you...it just plain sucks. However, my limited life experience has shown me that the quickest way to become what we have hated in others is to continue to view the world through the lens of our own hurt. That is, to hear only through the filter of our wounds and only experience life through our pain seems to cause us to create barriers with the end result being that we look very similar to the ones who hurt us in the first place. If we decide, before knowing one's story, who we think they will be, we will usually be right. Not because they actually are that person, but simply because that is what we were looking for.

    I hear you when you say that religious people can be hurtful! But I beg you, don't let that hurt define you. Don't give the pain the satisfaction of turning you into the very opposite of the person you hope to be.



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