We didn’t have many pets when I was small – we had James the escapologist Labrador who went to live on a farm, a tribe of stick insects who ended up massacred by accidental poisoning and a few gold fish. One particular gold fish met a spectacular end. Mum came home one day from work to find the goldfish flapping on the sideboard having tried to make a freedom bid from the too full bowl. Knowing I would be broken hearted she set about trying to revive this fish before it died. In her panic she grabbed a bottle of Andrews Liver salts (a fizzy remedy for indigestion), scooped the fish back into the bowl and added a heap of Liver salts. Apparently the fish revived and swam at top speed round the bowl in frantic circles before floating to the top dead. Sometimes there is not a happy ending no matter how much we try – we can’t fix everything.
Sometimes we are scared of failure and we try to protect the people around us from knowing that sometimes life doesn’t work out the way the thought it would. Bad things do happen. Jesus warned his followers that bad stuff will happen; following him is not like a magic charm that will protect us from suffering.
Matthew 10:21-22 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
I have been teaching my way through the book of Acts and was struck by a question I read: why did God send an angel to rescue the Apostle Peter, yet the Apostle James was killed?
Acts 12:1-2 It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. 2 He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword.
Acts 12:5-9 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. 6 The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. 7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. 8 Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. 9 Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision.
The truth is we don’t know the answer – we know that Jesus did not love Peter more than James. Bad stuff happens knowing why doesn’t always help. I remember hearing a lady say in one of the Grief Share videos that if Job knew why God took his family he would still have to face an empty breakfast table in the morning. So when we hear of the bad things all we can know is that God is not surprised at what is happened and that he has promised that everything, even the junk stuff, will be worked out and weaved into his plan for good.
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
We don’t know what we will face and what pain we will encounter, but I do know that for those who follow Jesus there is a promise of a happy ending.
Revelation 21:3-5 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. 4 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.” 5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
Until then I wait and trust…