[forthright] Is This Trouble From God?

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Fri, 19 Oct 2007 11:21:25 -0500
Forthright Magazine
http://www.forthright.net
Straight to the Cross


COLUMN: Heavenly Connections

Is This Trouble From God?
by Tim Hall

The drought in the Southeastern United States
continues to grow worse. Many areas are nearly 20
inches below normal for this time of the year.
Wells and springs are drying up. Atlanta is
concerned as the lake that supplies water for its
residents could vanish in a matter of weeks. The
situation is becoming a topic of daily
conversations, and some of those conversations
focus on God.

The Bible reveals that God has in times past sent
suffering to awaken his people to their perilous
spiritual condition. Amos 4, for example, speaks
of such trials: "'Also I gave you cleanness of
teeth in all your cities, and lack of bread in all
your places; yet you have not returned to me,'
says the Lord. 'I also withheld rain from you,
when there were still three months to harvest. ...
Yet you have not returned to me,' says the Lord"
(Amos 4:6-8, NKJV). What some might have called
"natural disasters" were actually God-directed.
There are many examples to be found in the Old
Testament.

But what about today? Does God continue to use
such methods? Can we say that the present drought
or other natural calamities are sent from God to
get our attention?

One passage that should guide our thoughts is
Hebrews 12:5-7: "And you have forgotten the
exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: 'My
son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by him;
for whom the Lord loves he chastens, and scourges
every son whom he receives.' If you endure
chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for
what son is there whom a father does not chasten?"

We do not contend that every instance of suffering
is from God. We sometimes bring the suffering upon
ourselves by foolish or sinful choices.  Such
choices can also bring pain upon the innocent. The
passage just quoted, however, makes it clear that
God does discipline his children. If we rejoice in
being his sons and daughters, then we must also
expect to be disciplined by him.

How can we know when trouble is from God? We can't
know for certain. God does not communicate that
information. But could that be a good thing?
Whenever we suffer we are given the opportunity to
reflect on our standing with God. Pain gives me a
chance to ask: "Is God trying to tell me
something? Have I 'fallen asleep at the wheel' and
need to be awakened?"

Let us not blame God for every bad thing that
happens in our lives. Neither let us go to the
other extreme by saying that no suffering is from
God. If he loves us, he's going to discipline us.

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