Today is Good Friday. Its the day that we remember the death of our Savior as a sacrifice in our place. But do we get it? The only place I've ever seen any really violent deaths is through the television. When I hear that Jesus was crucified, I don't have any experience to draw on to fully understand what he went through. My guess is that most of you are in the same boat as well. A crucifixion is so far from reality to us that its hard to comprehend. So let's look briefly at what our Savior endured for us. This will be detailed and may make some readers feel uncomfortable. It should. The goal here is not gore, but the truth of what our Savior went through for us.
Yesterday, I was tossing out some trash in the alley and I saw my neighbor Joe out and about. He's an 86 year old Italian guy who grows tomatoes in his backyard. It had been a long time since I had last talked to him because he stays in his house pretty much all winter. The last time we had talked, his wife was sick and I had been praying for her.
My Great Aunt Mona passed away last weekend. Death is usually such a sad thing and often it can be tragic. But the passing of Aunt Mona was different. Mona was 92 years young. She was always out and about, making phone calls, and was even driving until a few months ago! She was much loved with family that adored her and many who were blessed by her life. She went peacefully in her sleep.
Just knowing those things makes her death more sweet than sad. Our memories are of a healthy, strong, and loving woman. There was no pain. She really lived a full life.
But what really turns this time of loss into a time of celebration is her faith. Mona didn't just go to church, she knew God. She was a woman of prayer. She spoke often of God and the Bible. She knew where she was going when she died because she had trusted Jesus Christ as her Savior. Mona is not dead. She is alive and well with her Heavenly Father. She has been separated from us, but she has been united with Christ.
As a pastor, I get this one a lot. Why do bad things happen to good people? Its a tough question to answer for two reasons. First, its an incredibly big topic with much more than just one quick answer. It will take time to answer it in full. That's why I've decided to make this a series. This will just be the first piece to my answer and, if you'd like to hear more, you can vote on this topic again in the future (vote on the right side of the screen).
Second, this question is not asked when everything is great and we are happy with life. People usually ask this question in the midst of tragedy. The grief, pain, and sadness that go along with this question often make us angry. All of those things put together make this a difficult discussion. So let me start by saying, I'm sorry if that's you right now. I hope and pray that God comforts you in your time of need. I assure you that God is good and I urge you to let this difficult time cause you to rely on God more rather than turning from Him in anger and unbelief.
Why do bad things happen to good people?
My first answer to the question is not exactly an answer. Instead, I have a problem with the question. Who are these good people we are referring to? I'm not a good person. Are you? How do you stack up when you compare yourself to the Ten Commandments? Have you always put God first? Do you tell lies? Do you steal? Not just grand theft auto, what about stealing music on the internet or stealing time from your employer? Do you cheat? Do you hate people? Do you love others as yourself? Do you cut people down with your words? Do you lust after attractive people? The list goes on and on.
Steve Jobs, the co-founder and CEO of Apple, passed away just nine days ago on October 5. It didn't take long for Facebook to light up for this man. Dozens of people that I know changed their profile picture to the above photo, an apple logo, or some other commemorative picture. Status updates featured lines like:
"Goodbye Steve Jobs. You have changed the world forever and your legacy will live on. Prayers go out to your family and those that are grieving."
Other people tossed up inspirational quotes from Jobs on Twitter like this one:
“I want to put a ding in the universe.” - Steve Jobs
Amy Winehouse died last Saturday. For those of you who don't know, Winehouse was a very successful music artist who won five Grammys from one album alone. She died at the age of 27.
To the best of my knowledge, the cause of death is still uncertain. Tests have returned inconclusive and we may never know for sure. However, Winehouse's lifestyle points to a sad possibility. After reaching a good level of success and fame, she began abusing alcohol and drugs, harming herself, and spending time in rehab. This has led many to speculate that her recent death was an overdose.
Chris Farley, Brittany Murphy, Heath Ledger, Judy Garland, Billy Mays, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, and the list goes on and on. Whether or not Amy Winehouse's death had anything to do with an overdose, there are a frightening amount of celebrity overdoses.
But how? How does it get to that point? How does anyone come to the place where they are not only abusing drugs and alcohol, but abusing them to the point of killing themselves?
Mark has been happily married for five years, has a year and a half old daughter, and serves as a youth and children pastor in Oak Park.