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Cheryl Smith: Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?

Written by Staff on July 16, 2019 – 11:55 am -

Cheryl Smith: Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?

Cheryl Smith: Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?

A mother of four returns home from church to find her husband’s mangled car, just a block from home. As she enters her house, the phone is ringing. It is the hospital telling her to come quick, that her husband has been in an accident. She asks, ‘How bad is he,’ only to have the nurse on the other end of the line insufficiently cover the receiver while asking another nurse, “Shall I tell her?” At that moment, she knows he is gone. She struggles, wondering why he wouldn’t stop drinking, how she will tell her children their daddy is gone, and how they will ever make it through.

***

After the ending of a tumultuous relationship, a sweet, kind-hearted girlfriend takes him back just one more time. She gives him everything he asks for, including the money in her purse, only to have him return a few hours later to ruthlessly and repeatedly stab her face and body, leaving her lying in a pool of blood. She is found, arms folded, eyes turned heavenward, dead, on her apartment floor.

***

I stand beside my mother’s/her great-grandmother’s casket as the young girl in front of me pours out her heart. Addiction, abuse, and bad lifestyle choices have caused her to lose custody of her three children, and the only way she could attend the funeral was by obtaining a special pass from rehab. She tells me how she has made up her mind to change, and I tell her how proud of her I am. Just a few weeks later, she is released from rehab and everyone thinks she is finally turning her life around. Then someone makes an offer she can’t refuse, and she decides to go back for one more fix. Something goes terribly wrong, and her daddy finds her dead the next morning, lying on his bathroom floor.

***

This stuff isn’t made up. This is real life. Each of these is true and have touched my life and the lives of those I love in a deeply personal way. My mother was the young widow with four children; my niece, Victoria, was the kind-hearted girlfriend; and my great-niece, Ashley, was the young mom in rehab. I could go on and on. There are plenty of stories. You could probably share many of your own. The human condition is something we all have in common. Everybody hurts. We all cry. Things touch our lives, and we are left reeling, sometimes to never fully recover.

So, the question is, why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?

Why does God look on while such things happen? How can a loving God allow such pain to be inflicted upon His creation? We hear of horrific happenings every evening on the nightly news, and we find ourselves asking the age-old, still-unanswered question again and again: Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?

In spite of the frequency and number of times it has been asked, the question remains unanswered because to answer this question one would have to be able to see into, know, and fully understand the mind and reasoning of God. We know from Scripture that God is high above us, and His thoughts and ways are beyond what we have the capacity of comprehending.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8,9

“For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct Him?” I Corinthians 2:16

“Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now gird up your loins like a man, And I will ask you, and you instruct Me! Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” Job 38:1-4

From these verses, we conclude that we can never fully answer the question of why God allows bad things to happen to good people, but as we look at a broader view of Scripture, we can see that God’s original and never-faltering nature is and always has been purely and entirely good.

Our hearts cry, “Why, God?” when bad things happen because deep in each one of our spirits, we believe that God is good. We believe He is sovereign, that He is in complete control, and that He can prevent bad things from happening. So, why doesn’t He?

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Inner Views of The Bontragers: A Bluegrass family making music together

Written by Staff on September 21, 2018 – 1:02 pm -

Inner Views of The Bontragers: A Bluegrass family making music together

The Bontragers: A Bluegrass family making music together

We are pleased to present the first feature by SGNScoops Magazine writer, Cheryl Smith, as she presents the “Inner Views of the Bontragers.” We are thrilled to have Cheryl as part of the SGNScoops writing team. She enjoys Bluegrass and Appalachian music and brings a fresh look at gospel music from the mountains. 

Inner Views of The Bontragers: A Bluegrass family making music togetherIt is always such a blessing to come across families who are living for God together, and who are following him and his plan for their lives as a large family unit. When there is bluegrass music involved, it is an even bigger blessing. I am so grateful to be able to share the Inner Views of one such family with you, the Bontragers.


Cheryl: Please tell us about yourselves and your family.
Marlin and Becky Bontrager: Our parents taught us the value of hard work and strong family ties. We raised our family on a farm in rural Kalona, Iowa. We farm half of the year and travel singing and sharing God’s Word the other half.

Inner Views of The Bontragers: A Bluegrass family making music togetherCheryl:  How and when did the two of you meet?
Becky:  We casually met at a Bible school in Arkansas, then again with some mutual friends a year later, and once more at a conference in Ohio six months later. Total, we had spent probably three hours together, mostly with other friends, but through all this, God put it on Marlin’s heart to go out on a date with me. So about two years after our first meeting, he came to Cincinnati (where I was working at a daycare) to take me out on a date.The rest is history…

Cheryl:  Will you each kindly share with us about your personal Christian testimony?  
Marlin: We both were raised in Christian homes. I was rebellious for my growing up years. I came to Christ at a revival meeting a few months before my 20th birthday.

Inner Views of The Bontragers: A Bluegrass family making music togetherBecky: I asked God to save me when I was about 14. More recently, I have realized that God’s salvation is free and complete without any help from me. My part is simply trusting him for salvation and then joyfully serving/obeying him every day of my life. It is always the work of the Holy Spirit that draws a person to Christ, but our parents, the church, and a loving home were all instrumental in bringing us to salvation. Surrendering one’s life to Jesus Christ changes everything–it has affected our thoughts about birth control, how we raise our children, our finances, the way we spend our time, etc.

Cheryl:  Please share with us about your children and how God is working in and through their lives.  
Marlin and Becky: God has blessed us with 10 children. Each of them has asked God to save his or her soul. We have no greater joy than to see them walking in truth as they faithfully serve God in various ways. Four of them are now married, but the other six are still at home.

Inner Views of The Bontragers: A Bluegrass family making music togetherCheryl:  What is your favorite part of having a large family?
Marlin and Becky: A strong family is an incredible witness in a broken society. There are countless benefits to having a large family, but I will only list a few. A large family can complete a large work project very quickly. Family businesses are more easy to run with family members living in the same household. We have the same schedule, can discuss schedule and work while we eat family meals, we take vacations together. We also can have a party without inviting anyone else to join us but when we do hospitality, and we do it a lot both on the road and at home, the preparation and work is shared.


Cheryl:  What is your advice to parents who want to raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?
Marlin and Becky:  Parents must build their homes on God’s Word (Psalm 127.) Home discipleship is vitally important in raising and equipping our children. Deuteronomy 6 commands parents to teach their children as they “walk by the way, lie down, and rise up.” Parents must also be willing to be different and to make hard choices in order to shepherd their families. Discernment is a must. Teach your children to love God, to love his Word, and to love those around them.

Inner Views of The Bontragers: A Bluegrass family making music togetherCheryl:  How long have you been singing as a family, and how did God lead you to start this ministry?
Marlin and Becky: We have been traveling and singing for 13 years. We began when we were invited to participate in a Prison Crusade in South Carolina. After that first year, we did a few concerts at churches, and the ministry grew from there.

Cheryl:  Will each of you share about a dark time in your life and how the grace of God sustained you and saw you through such difficulty?
Becky:  For me personally, road life has some big challenges, the biggest being insomnia which seems to intensify when I get to bed late, eat certain foods, and am under stress, all of which seems to happen during concerts on the road. God’s grace, again, as in His divine influence on my life and it’s reflections in my life, has given me the strength to be joyful, to remember my words when singing most of the time, and to minister to others no matter how little sleep I get. I remember one lady who said, “It must be hard to live on the bus.” Those kind, understanding words ministered healing and encouragement to my heart. There have also been many acts of kindness along the way–a basket of homemade lotions, etc.
Marlin: My father passed away when I was 18. Although I was an adult at the time, I think that has given me a greater compassion for the fatherless. And while I know death is final, I know there are many men who are living without fathers in the U.S. and I think that would be harder. Letters or text messages I have gotten from brothers or sisters in Christ (that) have encouraged me, have (also) encouraged me to do likewise.

Cheryl:  What is the best marital advice you have ever received?
Marlin and Becky:  An elderly couple at one of our concerts said: “Follow the Owner’s Manual,” the Bible, to have a good marriage. We also have learned a lot from the “Love and Respect” DVD series as well as many other books. We took each of our married children through the “Love and Respect” series before they got married.

Inner Views of The Bontragers: A Bluegrass family making music togetherCheryl:  How can we pray for you?
Marlin and Becky:  You can pray that we would continue to serve God in humility and faithfully follow no matter where He leads us.

A big thank you to Marlin and Becky for sharing their Inner Views here. Find out more at bontragerfamilysingers.com

First published on Homespun Devotions by Cheryl Smith. This feature has been condensed. For the full interview, read homespundevotions.com/2018/04/the-inner-views-of-marlin-becky.html

This feature was first published in the SGNScoops Magazine in June 2018.

Cheryl Smith, author of the Inner Views

Cheryl Smith, author of the Inner Views

More on Cheryl Smith….

Cheryl Smith describes herself as a “passionate disciple and follower of Jesus Christ.” She says: “I am married to the sweetest, most patient man for over 30 years…Mama to one miracle son God sent to us after 12.5 years of infertility…Homeschool Teacher who learns way more than I ever teach.I love to spend time with my husband and son in the mountains, sing and play Bluegrass music, and write. I am so thankful for your visit and hope you will visit my blogs: homespundevotions.com/ and biblicalminimalism.com/ It is my goal to encourage you in your walk with Jesus and to inspire you to let go of this world for the sake of a higher call.  It is His call that I hope you hear. So compelling, so intense, so far above anything this world has to offer. It is the call His disciples heard as they went about a normal, ordinary day, fishing. It is a call they could not refuse. A call that caused them to drop everything they had and walk away from life as they knew it, without a backward glance. Can you hear it? Are you listening?”

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