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Understanding Both Good and Bad
In another one of my 2 a.m. morning routine, which seems to be when God wants to give me something to share, I read from evangelist Philip N. from Kenya how we are to consider the good times while at the same time understand the bad, because life is made up of both.
Boy, does that resonate.
25 years ago, when I lost just about everything, with the exception of my faith, it seemed like the “bad” was winning. I remember seeing a card at Hallmark with a stick figure of a person holding an umbrella with a little rain falling, and it said, “In every life a little rain must fall.”
But when I opened up the card, the stick figure was trying to hold onto the umbrella as a gale force storm came. And it then said, “But who ordered the deluge?”
And the answer is the Lord, but let me say this in advance, not to harm or to do damage, but to get our attention, like an alarm clock ringing that now is the time to wake up.
This whole idea about understanding both the good and the bad that comes in this life is brought out quite succulently by Solomon in Ecclesiastes 7:14.
“In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other, so that man can find out nothing that will come after him.” (Ecclesiastes 7:14 NKJV)
The New Living Translation says, “Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard times strike, realize that both come from God. Remember that nothing is certain in this life.” (Ecclesiastes 7:14 NLT)
Having both the good and the bad is a part of the faith journey we are on.
Unfortunately, most people, Christians included, don’t think so. We want to be comforted and assured that everything is going to be alright, and that everything is going to turn out okay, that is, we want the times both now and ahead of us to be good times, not bad.
But life is made up of both good and bad, and that’s because of Adam and Eve’s sin, where Satan tempted them to eat from the tree of good and evil, with the promise that they would be like God, knowing the difference.
But there was nothing good about what came, because through it we are all under sin’s curse to this day, which is death (Romans 6:23).
This is something Eve knew very well even before Satan’s temptation. It was the Lord who told them not to eat of the tree of good and evil, lest they would die. She even told Satan that very thing.
Eve said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” (Genesis 3:2-3 NKJV)
But Satan is a deceiver and convinced her that it wouldn’t be the case and that God knew it. He said that God knew they would be just like Him if they ate it.
Satan said, “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5 NKJV)
Well, I think it’s safe to say that there was nothing good that came out of that encounter, because the sin nature is now a part of humanity’s DNA. And therefore, the bad days are just as prevalent in our lives as the good days, and we must accept both and learn how we can manage our days with both of them playing a key role.
However, thinking that life should only be good times without the bad is immature and quite foolish. Job actually addresses this to his wife who told him to curse God and die seeing the trouble and the affliction that came upon him, when prior, he was blessed beyond measure.
Job said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10 NKJV)
Therefore, since we must have both good and bad times, we need to learn how to respond the right way to each.
Ecclesiastes 7:14 tells us that when times are good, we must be glad, filled with joy, and celebrate, because we never know when things are going to turn around. So enjoy the good times while they last.
However, when the bad times come, we are to carefully consider them, not celebrate them, because they are usually painful, physically and/or emotionally.
Now, I know it says in James 1:2 that we are to count it all joy when we fall into the various temptations that come in life, but it doesn’t mean we are to be joyful about them, but rather count it all joy.
And the reason is because of the positives that come out though these times as James goes on to tell us that these are the times that test our faith. What positives? James points out that the testing of our faith produces patience, and when patience has its way in our lives; then we’ll be perfect and complete, James says, not lacking a thing.
Further, while the bad times produce pain, such pain can be looked on as being good, because it forces us to search ourselves to see if there is any unclean or wicked way within and about us (Psalm 139:23-24). And this is so that we can confess and repent to get ourselves back on track with God.
I think this is what Paul kind of had in mind, or what the Holy Spirit was showing to him when he wrote in 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.” (Romans 8:28 NIV)
Now, this is not saying that all things are good. Clearly temptations and sin, as well as those negative things that happen in life are not good. But here is the promise, God can and will work them out to and for our good, which is also then for the good of His kingdom.
But how is this accomplished? It is only through repentance.
To repent in the Greek language means to have a change of mind, and it is used throughout the Bible to speak to our need to turn away from the way that we are going, the way that is not good, the way that is against God and His word. It is doing a 180 and turning back to God and His word as our source and inspiration for living.
But still, the bad times can come, whether we’ve done something wrong or not. It’s just a part of life because of sin’s curse.
Jesus said that even though evil has been done against us, we are not hate those who perpetrate these wrongs; instead we are to love them, so that we can truly be sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. And then Jesus shares with us this truth of life both lived with the good and the bad.
Jesus said of our Heavenly Father, “He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45 NKJV)
And then Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 7:14 that the reason we are to properly understand both the good times and bad, and then handle them in the right way is because no one knows what tomorrow will bring, that there is nothing certain in life.
No one knows what will happen tomorrow, or for that matter, what will happen in the next couple of minutes. Therefore, what I see this as saying is that we need to live our lives in complete and constant dependence upon God, and neither be secure in our prosperity, or in our good times, nor despair when times of trouble come.
And it is this very concept that Jesus had in mind when He gave us this piece of advice to live our lives by.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:33-34 NKJV)
In the end, we need to understand that both the good times and bad times come from God, and that He has allowed each. And what we need to understand during these times is that He is wise and good and His plans for us are good.
This He brings out through the prophet Jeremiah.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV)
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