Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Hey, there is something I have spent some time thinking about over the past week. It is simply this ... "How good IS God anyway?" I have always believed that God is the ultimate good. I still do believe that. God is good in the most radical sense. But I have to admit that there is a problem. The problem is not God's goodness. It is the harshness and the "realness" of life.

A couple of men got burned very badly at Olin this week. I mean REALLY badly. If I understand things correctly there was a leak in an "O ring" that caused oil to spray out, landing on a heater. The oil then ignited in the air ... the air which the men were inhaling. Their burns are horrific. We need to be praying for these guys and their families. Their lives hang in the balance. And, of course, we need to be standing by to assist if there is any way in which we as a part of the Body of Christ are needed.

And then there is a wonderful little gift to the world that we need to be praying for as well. This gift is a bundled up little boy named "Reid Scott Norvell." I got to meet Reid a few hours after he was born. He's a great looking little guy. We crossed paths when I went to visit him at the neo-natal ICU at Cardinal Glennon Hospital. Reid has a couple of problems. Life-long challenges are what they really are. You see, Reid was born with a mild form of Downs Syndrome. Exactly how mild will be known in time. He is not even a week old yet and he has already had major surgery to repair a messed up intestinal tract. His heart is not up to par either. He will be having surgery on that important organ in a few months. Reid is one of ours. He is the son of Scott and Richelle Norvell. They are a great couple. Scott is one of our deacons. Richelle is involved in ... well ... everything. They love God. Reid was welcomed into this world with hugs, kisses, and open arms. What a lucky kid! I can hardly wait for Reid to show up at our worship service. It will be so great to hold him up in front of our congregation and praise God for this wonderful creation of His!

Many people would look at these two events and wonder "why" God would allow situations like these to invade His world. I have a few thoughts about that. Let me share them with you. You see, life is not about God making us happy or healthy. Life is about God making us more like Him. And sometimes in order to do that He allows hard things to enter our lives. I do not believe that these things are "punishment." Rather they are the effects of living in a sinful, fallen world. A world where sometimes things do not work out the way we would like them to work out. But every time one of these things happen our loving heavenly Father is standing by waiting for us to "be Jesus with skin on." As Christians we know that the Holy Spirit of the Holy God lives within us. And He speaks to us. He gives us directions on how to live out life in ways that glorify Him. And then He speaks through us. We are, the scripture says, "Ambassador's for Christ." (I Corinthians 5: 20) God loves those guys in the burn unit at St. Johns Mercy. He loves their families. He hurts for them. He wants them to turn to Him for understanding and comfort. God loves Reid Scott Norvell at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital. And He loves Reid's family too. He is going to empower them to face the challenges that await them.

And how about you? What is your challenge? Are you mad? Are you hurt? Are you sick or injured or just plain tired? Is your car broken down and you don't have any money to repair it? Is your job in jeopardy? Is your marriage falling apart? Are you lonely? Do you struggle with a secret addiction? Are your kids messing up and refusing to listen to you? Are you wanting a husband or a wife or a child so badly that you can hardly stand it and yet God doesn't seem to give you the desire of your heart?

Yeah. I know how you feel. Really I do. I have faced some of those same issues. But let me give you a piece of advice. It's free. Remember the goodness of God? You will see it again in the land of the living. I believe that with all of my heart. Psalm 27: 13 insists that it's true. I am not brave enough to call the Psalmist a liar. Are you? No, I didn't think so.

So how about it? Are you going to admit that, while you might hurt really badly, God is able, willing, and desiring to use your circumstances to make you more like Him? Do you really want to hang on to your issues? It is really easy to wallow in pain and defeat. Sometimes it even feels good. For awhile. Then it gets very, very old. And it starts to eat you up. From the inside out. Bitterness begins to show up. And we all know what bitterness does. It kills. Hey, don't let it do that. Your Heavenly Father has a plan for your problem. But you have to submit it to Him. And then you have to lay it down. The problem might not go away. But let it rest in His hands and not your hands. And then let Him get on with His plan for your LIFE. Because your life is bigger than your problem. And God is bigger than both.

He really is good, you know. He loves me when I am ugly. He loves me when I am mean. He loves me when I don't trust Him. He loves me when I yell at Him. He loves me. He loves you too.

Welcome to our world Reid. God has a perfect plan for your wonderful life. And we are going to help you find it.