BOOK PREVIEW: It’s Not Your Fault

Bad Things Happen to Everyone

Anytime a saint suffers, modern church culture is quick to point the finger rather than lend a hand. I am reminded of the man born blind that Jesus healed, as described in John 9. I’m sure the disciples’ hearts were in a good place, but their first question sounds rather callous. In fact, they probably sound a lot like the church leaders who failed you: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Before you write them off too quickly, consider their background. These young men, raised in the strict Hebrew tradition, would know that the Old Testament mentions children bearing the consequences of their parents’ trespasses.  It was common belief in those days that a child born disabled was bearing punishment for the parents’ sin, or stranger yet, punishment for sin committed in the womb. I can’t find any commandments against kicking your mother’s bladder in the uterus, but I’m sure my own mother is looking. 

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” Jesus told them. I can only imagine the disciples were a bit shocked. Their rabbi’s teachings seemed to keep conflicting with what they had heard their whole lives. Of course when we sin, there are natural consequences. When parents sin, sometimes children are affected. But here, Jesus disrupts the narrative that that is always the case. Jesus says in the book of Matthew that rain falls on the just and unjust alike.  For a living case study, look no further than the prophet Job.

Job lived a comfortable life in the land of Uz that his friends and neighbors surely envied; he possessed a wealth of livestock, and was surrounded by large family, the two surefire signs of  blessing in the Old Testament.  But unlike some other wealthy men of his day, Job was also righteous. Right off the bat, in chapter 1 verse 1, the author tells us that Job is blameless, upright, and always careful to avoid doing evil.  

Nearly all of that changes in one day when God allows the devil to test Job. 

Job receives four separate messages that his livestock, servants and ten children have died from natural disasters or murder by marauders. When Job still praises the Lord, the devil asks to up the ante: Job is suddenly afflicted with a disease that causes horrible skin sores. Unfortunately, Job’s friends make the same assumption as the disciples in Matthew 5.  Instead of being a source of comfort for Job, they become a thorn in his side as he grieves. 

Like always, God is faithful to cut through all the noise. He shows Job that He is not angry at Him; in fact, He is angry with Job’s friends for suggesting that He is! Job has to intercede with God on their behalf. It was never God’s intent to punish, but to teach. Not only did Job draw closer to the Lord and see His vast power up close, He was blessed with a new family, restored health, twice as much property as before, and many more days on the earth. 

Back to Brokenness

Suffering is not always a sign of sin. In this world, it’s par for the course no matter who you are. Remember our discussion in chapter 1 about brokenness? Creation is subjected to futility, not by its own choice, but by the one who has subjected it. It is groaning with labor pain, waiting to be made new.  

Scripture does not shy away from depicting the reality of this brokenness. In fact, it doesn’t shy away from depicting the reality of depression. Take a look at Psalm 42: “My tears have been my food day and night, while all day long people say to me, ‘Where is your God?’” 

That sentiment sounds so familiar that I feel a kinship with the psalmist– he must be in “the club.” Remember the dry patches I got under my eyes from tears as a teenager? Tears were my food, because I had no appetite for anything else.  

In different ways, the disciples and Job’s friends were really asking of the suffering, ‘where is your God?’ That is the question the enemy, and sometimes even misinformed fellow saints, ask us today. “Where is your God? If tears are your food, He must not be as near to you as you thought.” 

Those comments will always sting a little. That’s okay; the hurt doesn’t make them true. Psalm 42 gives us our answer: “Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God.” 

Continue to praise him, for that’s where healing lies. His desire is not for you to blame yourself or hang your head in shame over your mental illness. It is only that you draw near to Him, letting Him teach, comfort, and sustain you. 

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