The Pursuit of Happiness Movie Clip:
If you haven’t seen the the movie Pursuit of Happiness you really should. In it, Will Smith plays a struggling husband and father, trying to sell those machines. At this point in the movie, he has been evicted from his apartment, his wife has left him with his 5 year old son, he has $22 to his name, and he’s sleeping in the bathroom of a train station. It’s a heartbreaking story of one thing spiraling out of control and leaving a man broken. And the crazy thing, it’s true. This movie is based on the life of Chris Gardner, and what happen to him in the early 1980s.
Several weeks ago I asked the teens this question,“Why do you or why do you not believe that Jesus is Savior?” For those that said they didn’t believe Jesus was the Savior, they fell into one of three categories: Bad things happen, he’s unrealistic and contradictory, and he doesn’t seem to be there.
In the last week of September, we tackled the unrealistic and contradictory reason for not believing in Jesus as Savior. Giving evidence for the realism of God from astronomy, and evidence that what we have in the Bible is authentic and trustworthy. We also tackled contradictions, we gave two examples of seemingly contradictions in the Bible, and we explored what is called textual criticism to realize, that these are seemingly contradictions because we are bringing our 21st century American mindset to a ancient Hebrew book. Therefore what seems like a contradiction, is really a misunderstanding of how another future writes.
In the next two weeks, we’re going to tackle the last two reasons to not believe in Jesus. Today we’ll look at the question, “Why do bad things happen?”
Chris Gardner tried as hard as he could to supply for his family. He invested everything he had in those machines and worked on selling them to doctors. But bills pilled up, taxes came due, parking tickets accumulated, and money was scarce, then his wife thru in the towel and left him with his son. Everything spiraled out of control, and he was left to spend the night in a San Francisco bathroom.
If we don’t ask the question, “Why do bad things happen,” somethings wrong with us. We should ask, why do we have over 20,000 kids in foster care? We should ask, why do we have mass shootings. We should ask, why is there so much abuse? And we should ask, why should a father have to huddle his son in a bathroom?
If we’re not asking these types of questions, are we really taking seriously the idea of God. Because if God is real, then these question have to be asked. If God is good, then we have to ask whey then is there bad?
But in asking our question of why is there bad, we must realize something: we too often turn the question outward, when we should be turning it inward. But if we did that, then we might not like what we find, and so it’s easier to push the question on to someone else.
See, if we follow the story of the Bible, then we see in the opening chapters that God created this world good. He created it with purpose, with laws to keep in perfect and good. But it wasn’t God who caused it to become bad, it was humanity. Humanity caused the brokenness of relationships. Humanity caused the ground to become hard. Humanity caused death and disease to take over their lives. And it all came from humanity rebelling against God’s rules that were placed there to keep the world good.
Now we might say, well why didn’t God just keep the humans good? Isn’t he all-powerful? Couldn’t he have made the humans do what was right?
The short answer is yes, but the answer to life’s greatest questions are hardly every short. See it was love that drove God to give humans the choice to follow him or not. If we make someone love us, that’s not love, that’s rape. If God forced the humans to not rebel, he wouldn’t be a God who loves, and instead, he would be a God who enslaves. And so, God let’s us have our way, destroying what he worked to make good.
It is easy to ask God why do bad things happen, it’s harder to ask why do we? Listen to what one of God’s followers says about why do we let bad things happen.
1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures (James 4:1-3).
Our own desires are what causes bad things to happen. Our desire to satisfy our sexual urges causes us to treat people as sexual objects, and relationships as toys to play with. Our desire to be greater than others, causes us to become greedy, vengeful, and we work to tear down others. Our desire for making sure we don’t get hurt, causes us to hurt others, and to lie.
Bad things happen, not because of God, but because of us. And God let’s us do it, because he is the only one that is seeking good. And that good is to not impose his will on another being, but we do it all the time.
We can ask why do bad things happen? Why did Chris have to be in that bathroom stall, clutching his boy, tears pouring down his face, barricade the door? The reality is, he invested all his money into a product that was hard to sell. And because he invested all his money, into those machines, he didn’t have any for his rent, or his car. Chris’ actions led to him being in that bathroom stall.
But did God leave him there? No, God had given him the intellect to turn his situation around, and he eventually became a stock broker and created a multimillion dollar business. God used, Chris’ bad moves, and made greatness out of them.
This is why Paul says in his writings, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).”
We create bad things, yet God can work them out for good. What bad thing is happening in your life right now? You might not see how God is going to work it out for good, but I have a promise of God that says, if you love him and follow his purpose for you life, he will work all this bad for your good.
The question isn’t why do bad things happen, the question is, am I going to follow God and not myself?
I want to challenge you write down a bad thing that is going on in your life. Then, if you want God to bring good out of it, cross it out and write I will follow God.
God desires that when the bad things we don’t hide from him, but that we would let him embrace us.