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Feb 24, 2019

Dear Pastor Chris: Why? Pt 2

Dear Pastor Chris: Why? Pt 2

Passage: Job 4:1-9

Speaker: Pastor Chris Riedel

Series: Dear Pastor Chris

Category: Faith, Hope

Keywords: faith, hope

Why do bad things happen? There is no real answer but the God of scripture and of heaven and and earth is at work even in the depths of any suffering, to bring out the whole; to bring out healing.

Scripture:

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever." -- Psalm 23:1-6 (KJV)

Devotional:

In a 2-year period, my father passed away, my sister passed away, and my mother suffered a fall that resulted in spinal fusion, more than 2 weeks of intensive care, more than a month of rehab, and ultimately a transfer to an assisted living facility. In the last couple of years, I've certainly had occasion to reflect on the topic of suffering when we've seemingly done nothing wrong.   

To keep this devotional from being a novella, I'll focus on the sudden and unexpected passing of my sister Krissy -- the most inexplicable and unexpected of the challenges I've experienced in the last 2 years.   

First, there are a few things you need to know about Krissy:  She was a beloved elementary school art teacher and the most optimistic, spirited, and vibrant person you've ever met. And that is an understatement. She had the heartiest laugh, gave the best hugs, and savored every moment of every day. A former student (now an adult) reflected that walking into her classroom was like walking into an animated television show. Thoughts from some of her friends include:  "The kindest and most positive person that I knew."; "The type of person who could appreciate the wonders and beauties of the world"; "As pure a spirit as I've ever known"; and "Living, breathing sunshine".   

Yet, she was taken from us - suddenly and unexpectedly - leaving behind her husband Steve and four children, aged 11-15. 

At her memorial service, the line went out the reception room, through the foyer, out the parking lot, and wrapped around the building. Steve, my mother, my brothers, and I took care to speak with each and every mourner -- not only to thank them for their support -- but also to listen to their thoughts about Krissy's impact on their lives. Many said that they took her passing as a challenge to become a better person. Krissy never forgot anyone's birthday - creating hand-drawn cards to remember their special day. Many pledged to be better at remembering more birthdays - as well as life's simple pleasures. A Facebook group was created ("Rainbows through the Clouds") as a forum for sharing random acts of kindness, beautiful images of nature, and words of encouragement.  One of her friends reminded us of the words of Dr. Seuss: "Don't be sad because it's over, be happy that it happened". Another friend reminded us of the guidance of Mr. Rogers to "look for the helpers" when dealing with tragedy. Through the gifts of fellowship -- and many conversations with God -- I was able to see beauty and goodness even in the midst of great sorrow. 

To be clear, I don't pretend for a moment to understand the will of God. Yet, I have found that an unyielding commitment to conversation with Him can reveal the promise in the scripture:  the peace of God can transcend all understanding.  

"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior."  (Habakkuk 3:17-18, NIV). 

"Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4, NIV).   

It's been said that suffering is God's megaphone.  I've found that deep suffering, when your heart is most raw - can represent the best opportunity to hear God's voice when you reach Him in prayer.  

Prayer:

Father, we thank You for being with us when we traverse through darkest valleys. Let us remember to continuously go to You in prayer and listen for Your voice. We thank You for all of Your blessings and pray that we remember to come to You in thanksgiving for all that You've bestowed upon us. And most of all we thank You for the gift of Your Son whose sacrifice provides us with eternal salvation.   

Written by Rich Krygiel. Rich leads one of our men's ministry groups at Arcola Church. He is a devoted husband to Mary and father to Ella and Zach.