Untimely Death & The Sins of Others

Ministry news comes in many forms, the greatest is the good news! The eye-witness accounts of the salvation of souls and the transformation of lives as people turn from worldliness to godliness. The joy of families having healthy babies and training their children to grow up following the Lord the best they know how. More good news from the mission field of churches being established and left in the hands of the national people. The saint that has followed the Lord faithfully to the end of their life and are now in the presence of the Saviour. The rejoicing when those in our church surrender to God’s calling on their life, whether it is for them to be in the ministry or simply becoming a more godly Christian. These are the reports that fill the heart sometimes until it wants to explode in praise to God the Father for all the good God does in the hearts of men.

Then, the flip side, the news that can shake your faith and leave questions in your mind about the goodness of the Lord. The things that I cannot shake this week does not have to do with worry about life but the why’s of life. In the closet of my heart hang these questions of why do evil things have to happen? Why do godly people suffer? Why do Christians willfully make choices to sin against the Lord?

All people have these questions, some people even use them as an excuse not to believe in God or allow Him to have an influence in their lives. But me, God chose me to be in His service and I still have questions, doubts even. Yet, I must have faith and hope that He is Omniscient (all-knowing), and Omnipotent (all-powerful), and Omnipresent (ever-present). Not only does God see the imperfection of this world He sees the questions hanging in my heart.

For me this week it revolves around death… untimely death. A deacon in our church has been given a 2 month diagnosis with his 14 brain tumors that have returned after 6 years of remission. Then there is the situation of a missionary’s wife we support that was killed on Valentine’s Day. The likely suspect is her husband that was arrested a few days ago. The report that our city is one of the highest leaders in partial birth abortion just makes me sick to my stomach. Then the thought of 2 Christian friends I have known in the past that have taken their lives. The list can go on from car wrecks to household accidents… the evil report of untimely death can weigh heavy on the heart of people in the ministry and hang over you like a cloud if you let it.

The report of sin has also been weighing me down… Finding out about people’s choices to sin gets to me. It has caused me to question every motive of a person and whether they really love the Lord, or whether the conversations we’ve had in the past were actually real conversations or fake representations of who they were.  Whether their motives were pure when they did right. The grief of knowing secret things of people’s lives can really mess with your head if you let it.

I remember a time when I was an assistant RA (Resident Advisor) in college and in the middle of the afternoon some of the girls in our dorm started having a conversation about a trip they went on and how they went to a concert instead of the girl’s house like they had reported. The room got silent as they realized I was sitting there and in my heart I sighed because now I was going to have to let the Dean of Women know about it… their choices obligated me to have to take action according to the rules of the school.

Churches have specific leadership requirements and people do not see how their sin keeps them from serving in the particular positions that they wish to work in. Or their choices disqualify them from service and obligate someone else to confront them and remove them from service. It’s a grief to know about all the faulty choices people make. The questions hanging in my closet are: Why do people choose to hurt themselves and the name of Christ by choosing to sin? Do they realize how their sin affects others?

When others sin, it sits on the doorstep of my mind and  it causes me to make a decision about how I feel about them, what I think about them, how I am going to respond to this knowledge of their choices. It is my response to these thoughts that determine if I will allow the decisions that others make to be a stumbling block for me.

People generally do not walk away from God in an instant, it’s a slow process, like the Chinese water torture method of dripping. The dripping of doubts and questions may break my heart and my will to fight for God’s Kingdom. It may not be that I fall into that same sin that someone else is involved in but if I allow Satan to bring thoughts, questions, and doubts about who God is and His goodness then it could take me steps farther from Him. The more questions and doubts I allow the more steps away from God I could take until I finally walk away… Oh Lord, I never want to walk away from you or the work you have for me! Please help me with my thoughts!

The solution for the questions hanging in the dark closet of my heart has to be that I must give over my questions and thoughts of all the evil reports that I hear over to the Lord. I must do what it says in I Peter 5:7, “Casting all your care upon him.”

Some people have thick tough skins and it may not bother them to hear of untimely death or church members sinning but many things eat like a canker sore at my heart and cause me to run them through my head a million times over.  I have no other spiritual choice than to say, “Lord, I can’t handle this, please take this from my mind and memory right now. I can’t fix this, only you can.”

God takes them from me, and the rest of the verse tells me why, “he careth for you.” God does not want me to be weighted down heavily with the evils of sin and the problems of this world even if they have to do with members in our church or members of my family. He wants to carry any and all burdens from me.

Here’s a Special Note:

It’s important that when we converse with other Christians, even our friends in the ministry, that we do not dump reports of sin and evil on them in every conversation that we have. You really do not know the sensitivity they have about dealing with facts of sin and evil. Some people may grieve,  others will get angry and may feel motivated to do something about it personally when it is not their place to say or do something.

I have been so thankful for a few situations where friends have known of someone in the ministry that have fallen into sin and told me about the person having a sin problem but have NOT disclosed the details.

Philippians 4:8 is very significant in revealing what my thoughts and reports should be:

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

We live in a sin cursed world where things do not make sense at times and the hope we have is to think on God’s good things… that is why it is so wonderful to hear good news from afar and to see the work of God in the hearts and lives of people in His church. Good news can be the relief to help take the burdens off of others’ shoulders. We should not reject real and serious problems with the “power of positive thinking.” There is a time and place for everything. Asking the Lord to give you discretion on how to deal with sensitive topics and whether you should disclose details on “negative” or sinful reports will help you make wiser decisions and relieve others from unnecessary burdens.

As I pillow my head tonight I can have peace that the questions hanging in my closet have been given away. God’s taking them to Goodwill for me and replacing them with lovely things to hang in their place. Thank you Lord for taking my burdens and caring for me!

And another side note:

Does this mean that because I have questions or doubts or that the knowledge of other people’s sin bothering me that I am not qualified to counsel other women that confess their faults? No, any time a lady brings a problem to you, you are responsible for pointing them to the Lord and helping them find answers in His Word. You are not responsible for changing them or coming up with a solution to change them. God changes people, His Word and Holy Spirit must be used to convict them so that they can change. Notify your pastor and let him know if someone has spoken to you. And remember you should always keep matters of counseling private and cast any and all things to the Lord so that you can live free from the bondage of knowing too much.