Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: THE WHOLE WORLD IN GOD’S HANDS (not the song) (05/28/15)
- TITLE: Sometimes There Are No Easy Answers
By Lollie Hofer
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Witnessing was a lot more difficult than Jeremy realized. His youth group had worked faithfully at memorizing the “Roman’s Road” scriptures preparing for the big outreach at the park. There were going to be a live band, balloons, clowns, games, bounce houses and free food to draw people to the festival. He was excited when the day finally arrived but nothing in his how-to-witness materials prepared him for this man’s questions.
“If God is so loving and kind, why didn’t He protect my family? God may have the whole world in His hands but that certainly didn’t include my wife and two children. Why didn’t God pick up their van and move it out of the way? Why did that semi-truck run the red light and slam into them?”
Poking Jeremy in the chest, the man backed him up to a tree. “Here’s what I think of your God,” he said spitting on the ground. He rubbed the spit into the ground with the heel of his shoe.
“Until you can tell me why God didn’t have my family tucked safely away in His hands that day, I don’t want to have anything to do with you, your religion or your God.”
Jeremy watched the man walk away from the festive atmosphere. He stared long after the man disappeared down the street. Not realizing he had dropped his tracts, they blew in circles around his feet.
After the crowds had their fill of food, fun and fellowship they left for home. Once the park was cleaned up, the youth group sat around sharing stories of how God had made a difference in the lives of people in their community.
“I know the one lady with all those kids just moved to the area. She’s looking for a church and said we’d probably see them on Sunday,” Shelly said.
“Did you see the family that Pastor Matt prayed with?” asked Susie. “They gave their hearts to Jesus. It was awesome.”
“Jeremy, you’ve been extremely quiet for the last few hours. Do you have anything to share?” asked Pastor Matt.
With a shake of his head and a shrug of his shoulders, Jeremy said nothing. But he couldn’t stop the tears from flowing down his face.
Some of the young people moved closer to him. Pastor Matt patted him on the back. “What’s up?”
He shared what happened earlier in the afternoon. He wiped a mixture of tears and snot on his shirt sleeve as he concluded, “I failed him. I couldn’t think of one scripture or word of encouragement to offer the man. I let him walk away without one bit of comfort. I didn’t even ask him his name.”
Jack said, “I saw you talking with him. That’s Old Man Dan. He’s homeless and hangs around the park a lot on the weekends. Lots of picnic goodies get thrown away.”
Pastor Matt added, “I don’t know that you could have said anything to make him feel better. A quick, pat answer may have made you feel better but not him. I wish there was an answer for what happened to his family but there’s not.”
“But, Pastor Matt, if God truly does have the whole world in His hands,” Jeremy asked, “Why does He allow bad things to happen to good people?”
Pastor Matt rubbed his whiskers for a few seconds before answering. “Again, I wish I had an easy answer for you but the truth is I don’t know. The one thing I do know is God is in control and He knows what He’s doing even when it doesn’t make a lot of sense. And I know God loves Old Man Dan and wants him to know His love. Maybe you could start by praying for him daily. That alone could have an impact on his life. It’s probably been a long time since anyone has petitioned heaven on his behalf.”
Wiping more tears on his sleeve Jeremy asked, “Can we pray for him right now?”
As the sun began to set the youth group gathered in a circle. Together they bombarded heaven on behalf of Old Man Dan.
Truth be told, the day’s encounter was no accident. God knew He could trust Jeremy and his friends to care what happened to Old Man Dan. As a result of their prayers, God’s plans were now taking shape. God smiled.
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