↻ Updated: January 18th, 2020 by JPE
Life’s Cruelty is Not God’s
Asked a certain man one day after learning that his loved one died in an accident: “Why is life so cruel sometimes?” I’ve been reflecting on this thought—the negative surprises of life. Is life’s cruelty a part of God’s plan? “Life is unfair!” is most people’s perception when under extreme trial. Well, why is life so merciless sometimes? The optimist calls it the gloomy perspective, the glass-is-half-empty mindset. For me, life is God’s and what is His is never turbulent. Life’s truculence did not start with our loving Maker; it was not a part of the original creation of man. When God created Adam, He charged him to rule and dominate the world as the image of God who will never die until he disobeyed Him. (Gen. 1:26-31; 2:17) The Bible attributes God’s likeness only to man, the crown jewel of His creations who shared His breath; have a mind, soul, and body the other creations do not have.
Life’s circumstances aren’t always favorable, but neither are they harsh. For example, is it unkind because a certain loved one died in an accident? God said death is an appointment. (See: Heb. 9:27) It is a rendezvous either by sickness or accident or old age. We will all die, although not at the same time. Now, is it life’s fierceness that God took away your loved one? Again, the answer is “No!,” because as God gives, so He takes away. Job said: “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21)
Outside of God’s Viewpoint on Life’s Cruelty
Our biggest problem concerning life’s trials is that we are seeing them outside of God’s viewpoint. Job of old was righteous, prosperous, and a happy man, always praying for his beloved children. But then God allowed the devil to torment Job. His riches; his family members; and even his health—everything he owned—got the ruthless wrath of Satan. Job’s family, as a result, died including his servants and all his sheep and cattle. His folks left him like he was a ship about to sink (even the rats, fled away, so to speak!); and sores covered his body. But the heart-rending part of it all was that his wife and friends came only to ridicule him. What a trial; it was life’s severity at its peak!
Is Life’s Cruelty Perpetrated by the Wrong God?
Viewing life as God-given makes a big difference. Is life hateful? No, because God is a merciful and loving Father. But if you persist in believing that life is not good to you, perhaps it is because you have the wrong “god.” For the God of the Holy Bible said that all things happened in the life for good. Taught the apostle Paul that “we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28) I read in the social media the thousands of people experiencing inhuman sufferings because of their beliefs (or the color of their skin!) like the Uyghurs in China; the White farmers in South Africa, and the Christians in Iran and in other parts of the world. If you are not a born-again Christian, your view about life is one of regret and utter hopelessness as your enemies prepare to behead you or burn you alive. But if you are born of God by faith in Jesus, our Lord, you are hope-soaked—you are unlike the hopeless others! For the Bible said, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. . ..” (Is. 43:2) The New Testament also taught us about the promised victory of the followers of Christ. Observe the following Scriptures:
Life is always Good for Christ’s Born-Again Followers
Have you heard of a true Christian (experiencing the second birth) seeing life as ruthless and not even worth living? No, even amidst chaos, war, severe poverty and persecution or a terminal ailment. Christianity is the most persecuted faith system in the world and the Bible recorded that by faith “. . . others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.” (Heb. 11:36-38) In Romans 8, the apostle Paul taught us more about hope and the assurance we have in Jesus:
The above Scripture provides the hope of the real Christian, but it is not all since Christ works directly in the hearts of His followers. Wrote the apostle Peter that in Christ, God will empower you. Note this Word of God: “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:10) Yes, our Lord is always good to His people.
The Wrong God and the Chaos He Brings
On the Illusions of Life
Are you experiencing a very unkind and hurtful profile of existence? Your parents, for example, broke up early in their marriage and your relatives adopted and maltreated you? Or are you so poor and uneducated and envious of the sumptuous life of your rich neighbors? Well, you have the wrong god—the god of this world if you will—who have deceived you (and the entire humanity) into absorbing and loving (and dwelling!) on the things that do not last. Life on earth is just like a mirror that won’t mean anything once broken. When you die your folks forget you. You are just a mere passerby in their neighborhood who made your footprints during the night, hence no one remembers them as time flies. God said you are dust—nothing! Are you sorrowful today because you are jobless or you don’t have a loved one or you are angry with your own unique face? Whatever makes you suicidal is just an illusion. Where is the reality of it all if you are a rich man and die the death of the wealthy? Your rich life is just a daydream. For you will leave everything you labored so hard and loved so much when you die. I’ve been watching those posts on the YouTube about “the soul caught on CCTV.” Yes, the truth about my soul always thrilled me. It is the only thing I have that is mine forever. The Words of Christ about my soul fortified the spiritual me since I know my soul is the only one thing I truly have that is immortal. Matthew 10:28 is one of our Lord’s teachings that lives and grows in my heart by the waters of faith. He said: “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” I got so excited with this verse after I changed the word “destroy” to “save” and the word “hell” to “heaven.” Now I have a doctrine: “Fear Him who is able to SAVE both soul and body in HEAVEN!”
The Source of Your Miseries
Your false god will teach you to chase the world, enjoy it, and worry over it. But this world is passing away. When the devil tempted Jesus, for example, he offered nothing but the things related to hunger, the egoism of showing off Christ’s deity (“throw Yourself down” or show a miracle), and the human desire for wealth and power (“showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory”—Matt. 4:8.). Look, what is hunger or ego or wealth? The apostle John describes the devil’s assets as nothing but the things of this world. “For all that is in the world,” he wrote, “the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” You are complaining and you believe that your life is just boring, painful, and cruel! Why? Because your spiritual health is so tired and anemic. You need blood—the blood of Jesus at Calvary. Your miseries come from your false god who have no gospel to offer you.
One More Point
Do you remember Bartimaeus in Mark 10? He was a blind beggar who shouted for Jesus’ help. Recorded Mark: “When he [Bartimaeus] heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!'” (Mark 10:47) Note the records in verses 51 and 52 of the same chapter in Mark: “And answering him, Jesus said, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’ And the blind man said to Him, ‘Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has made you well.’ Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road.” It is the point. You have the wrong god who cannot help you, hence you grieved and judged your life as not worth living. Remember this: You are angry at life because your God is not Jesus Christ!
Come to Me
The cruelty of life is allowed by God to display His power and loving intervention. The apostle John recorded this discussion with Christ: “And His disciples asked Him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.'” John Flavel once said that “Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.” Your tragedy is God’s moment to parade His ready help. I experienced the pressures and trials of life as a young man. Have you heard of a man in a Law school filling his notes with prayers to a God he didn’t know—instead of his Law lessons? That’s me before I met Jesus, our Lord. I searched God’s face as I confided to Him the troubles in my heart. One day, at our school’s entrance, an American missionary handed to me a beautiful pocket New Testament and from there I met this Scripture: “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him And saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them.” (Ps. 34:6-7) The unkindness of my life became the door that opens the light of Christianity. Christ came to my soul and my whole life got transformed—I experienced the second birth!
In the last part of Matthew chapter eleven and in verse 21, we find Jesus saying: “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” “Woe” means great sorrow or distress will come to these unrepentant cities who rejected Jesus in spite of our Lord’s miracles. Then in verses 25 and 26, Christ said that God hid the reason for believing from the wise and revealed them to the “infants”; revealed them to the humble in spirit! Our Lord also spoke about His deity. “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father.” Yes, Christ taught about His deity, and the need for our humility and repentance before He invited us to COME to Him. The Scripture is just so interwoven to prove a point. Those haughty in spirit and those wicked and godless students of the life-is-always-good school will never have an infant-level submissiveness to our Lord. But for those meditative in the heart and seekers of the truth, Christ said “Come to Me.” I had a friend who may have the rank of nine in the maximum arrogance range of 1 to 10. Yes, he rejected Jesus and at a young age his pride killed him.
Are you concerned about your expiration here on earth—when your heart begins to malfunction because of overuse; your blood circulation misbehaving, and your kidneys crying unfairness after a 60-year unappreciated filtering job? We will all die and Christ invited us to come to Him before that final drawing of our last breath. “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” What a loving invitation from the risen Lord and Redeemer. He didn’t say come to Me except the harlots, the thieves, the murderers, the fornicators, and the liars. No. He just said “Come to Me” all of you if you are willing to believe and repent.
You’ll never hear Christ’s “Come to Me” beyond the sunset of your sojourn. When death comes you will receive nothing except God’s judgment if you are unsaved. Now is the time to repent and know Jesus and receive Him as the only Forgiver of our sins and Savior of our soul from hell. The supreme cruelty you will give yourself is not your poverty or lingering sickness but your lack of hope and assurance to meet Jesus in heaven when you die. It is the worse-case injury you can give your life, to let your soul, to let yourself tormented in the worms and fires of hell forever because of unbelief. “Come to Me.” It is Christ calling you—better pay attention if you want heaven and eternal life for your soul.