“BAD THINGS, GOOD RESULTS” By Pastor YAU
Text: 2 Kings 5:1-15 August 16, 2009.
1) Experience of a writer: Writer Julie A. Link recalled her bad experience: When I rear-ended a truck with my nearly new car, positive thoughts did not immediately come to mind. I was thinking of the cost, the inconvenience and the injury to my ego. But I found some hope in this thought which I shared with other writers: “In every bad experience, there is a good lesson.” We can’t stop bad things from happening. But how we respond to them determines the results: for better or for worse.
2) Experience of a slave: A young Jewish girl was kidnapped from her home by a mighty Syrian army and was kept as a slave in the home of the Syrian general. Instead of cultivating hatred and moaning her misfortune, she happily served the general’s wife. When her master was sick of a deadly and shameful disease, she even recommended him to seek healing from a prophet in her home country. Her act of grace brought glory to God when the general declared that there is no God except in Israel. (5:15)
WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN? Here are some samples.
1) Bad things just happen: It is 9:00PM, June 25, 2009, now. The big news on TV is the death of Michael Jackson. Regardless of what and how one may see his life. Michael was a talented and successful pop-star. Many may feel that he is too young to die at age 50. The cause of his death is no longer important. What is important is that he is dead and it is a bad thing to happen. I am sure no one would suggest otherwise.
2) Because of bad people: Without being political, no one would believe the legitimacy of the pre-arranged results of an election announced by the power establishment in Iran only 2 hours after 40 millions paper ballots were cast. When the Iranians protested the legality of the corrupted election, they were beaten, arrested and killed by their own government. Similar event happened this month 20 years ago in China. People with power often used it for bad purpose against the weak and the vulnerable. There is rarely justice in this world.
3) Because of bad choices: Many people suffer bad experience because of bad choices they made. A governor made a secret trip to Argentine last week ended up having a tearful confession of his failure in marriage. In his painful confession, he admitted that he has hurt his wife, their four children, the other woman, family and friends and the people in his state. Many people suffer advert consequences for bad decisions made by others. No one lives in isolated islands. What we do, decisions we made affect others for better or for worse.
4) Because of sinful nature: This doesn’t mean to pass the bucket for human failure but to point out the presence of the power of evil in our life and the consequence it caused. We all can join Apostle Paul lamenting the painful condition when he knew what was good but failed to do it but he continued to do what he knew was evil. (Romans 7:14-24) No one in human history had the power to overcome that evil nature in life. That is why we need a new life from God thought our faith in Jesus Christ.
COMMON RESPONSES TO BAD THINGS:
1) We feel sorry for self: This is the first reaction most people will respond to bad things happened to their life. Feeling sad, angry, helpless and hopeless. It is a natural tendency for human beings to feel inadequate, trapped and helpless in bad experience, setbacks and failure. Feeling numb and hopeless is part of “shut-off” emotional mechanism. But these are all negative responses that may lead to worse scenario such as physical, emotional recession that may further affect the bad situation.
2) We blame everyone else: This is a natural response of self-defense mechanism: I need to protect myself. Because of the feeling of being “attack” unjustly or unfairly treated, putting the blame on others is a way of fighting back: an offence used as defense. We tend to blame on others, people who are related to the situation, and the environment in which the bad things happened. There may be some truth in this but this won’t change anything nor make you feel better. We tend to blame all others except “self.”
3) We get angry with God: We don’t have to be religious to feel that God owes us his protection and grace on our life, our job and all that related to us because we have accepted Jesus as our Savior and we are fairly faithful Christians. Some people may feel that believing in Jesus is like buying an insurance policy and God should play His role to keep us safe from bad things. In some extreme situations, we see some Christians even decided to abandon God, God’s people and God’s church. They are mad at God and everything and everyone about God.
4) We try to find an escape: This step may be good or bad depends on what it is and how it may affect others. In seminary days, we were taught that if our job in a certain church turns out a mess, do not hurry to find a new church without seriously finding the true cause of the mess. If it has to do with the self, the best way is not looking for a new church to make a mess again but to learn to correct the causes before your next move. I found this to be very true and helpful. This is applicable to all of us in jobs, marriages and relationships: look inside before look outside.
STEPS TO GOOD RESULTS: (2 Kings 5:1-15)
1) Live with imperfection: “Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of the master and highly regarded because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier but he had leprosy.” (5:1) For a man to achieve such prestigious status is almost perfect. But this same man had the most shameful and deadly disease, leprosy. Do not look for a perfect life. God is wise to plant thorns in our fresh to keep us from too proud.
2) Payback evil with good: “She (the captive Jewish girl) said to her mistress: If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria. He would cure him of his leprosy.” (5:3) The way this poor girl served her mistress and master with love and grace reflects a similar quality as Joseph did in Egypt: being faithful in what you do in all situation. The result of her being graceful to her captor was stunning: it turned an enemy commander into a God fearing man when Naaman declared: Now I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel.” (5:15)
3) Get rid of your pride: “But Naaman went away angry and said: I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hands over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharper, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed? So he turned and went off in a rage.” (5:11-12)When Naaman showed his pride of an army commander, he lost in the purpose of his trip to Israel: to seek healing not to command an army. If you are earnestly seeking God’s help, do not interfere with His method. Pride gets nowhere with people, much less with God.
4) Trust those who love you: “Naaman’s servants went to him and said: My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tell you: Wash and be cleansed!” So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his fresh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.” (5:13-14) In our distress facing problems, we need to listen to those who are close to us, know us the best, have our best interest in mind and want to see the best for us. Imagine what if Naaman refused to listen to his servants and returned to Damascus and washed in the waters there, what do you think he would get? Nothing.
5) Do not forget God’s grace: “Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said: Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. Please accept now the gift from your servant.” (5:15)To come back to God, gave God the honor and glory He deserved and gave Him gifts to demonstrate his gratitude after receiving God’s healing was an important step Naaman took. We have seen some people forgot about God after they were delivered from their troubles. They never bring God great gifts for His grace, never count His blessings, never give God His glory and went their way like nothing has happened.
1) This is an imperfect world: This statement is to say the least about this world and all the bad things had happened, is happening and will happen in another thousand years if the Lord tarries his coming back. This world will never become heaven no matter how much man may try. All of us, including you and me, will experience bad things regardless who is at fault. Life is never easy that is why the first thing babies do when they were born is let out of a screaming cry. Be prepared for all the bad things and don’t be surprised when they come.
2) Choose the way you respond: No one can stop bad things from happening. But we all can choose how we respond to them. Do some preparation to face them so you won’t be panic, angry, sad, lost in confusion or sink into the abyss when they come your way. Learn from good examples. Grow your trust in God and His grace. Keep a circle of trusted family and friends so you won’t be alone to face the mountains. Learn from every bad experience a lesson or two so you will grow wiser in each step.
3) Never sail in deep sea alone: This world can be a dangerous place like a deep sea of unknown. Never sail out without God who knows every inch of it because He created it. Confess you sins and ask him to forgive you. Ask God to enter your heart and turn your life to His guidance. He will lead you out of all the turbulence to the other side in peace and security.