When Things Go Bad to Worse

When personal disaster strikes, the natural inclination is to question God in our anguish. “Why, God, are you doing this to me?” That wasn’t the case in this man’s story. 

I heard a story this week about a man who suffered a business failure, personal financial ruin, a devastating health crisis, family deaths, and mental health trauma.

No, it’s not a recap of the Book of Job, but actually the compelling testimony of a Silicon Valley high-tech executive. He humbly shared his story to a group of business men and women at this past week’s Engage event in Palo Alto, California.1

The Book of Job has been on my mind in recent weeks (see Lessons from the Book of Job), sparked by a conversation I had with Michael Halloran prior to his live presentation this week before a large audience. I told him that his story was somewhat of a Job story. Michael’s testimony has also been captured in the popular book Finding God in the Silicon Valley.2 The full details of the sequence of tragic events hitting one man and his family is enough to have anyone else count their blessings in comparison or cringe to imagine experiencing just portions of the trauma that occurred here.

And yet the peace of God and a renewed life and heavenly perspective is what emerged from this disastrous series of experiences. While living through a miraculous recovery from a life-threatening brain tumor, today Michael’s business and finances have now been fully restored and blessed beyond his wildest expectations. Even so, Michael’s family is still recovering from emotional and psychological scars of his bad-to-worse onslaught of events.

So where’s God in this?

God in Every Moment of Trials
Actually, according to Michael, God is all over this. As he says, “It had nothing to do with me. It wasn’t my faith in God; it was God’s faith in me. He was there all the time in every moment.” He even admits now of his own confused theology about adversity;

“I thought that my life would always be better and that God would provide for me. What scripture is telling me now was that faith had nothing to do with my financial success; it had nothing to do with my accomplishments; it had everything to do with my soul. And what was important was other people, other relationships.”

Michael also says he got an advance glimpse of heaven:

“There was a moment after surgery when I am convinced that I got a glimpse of heaven. I can’t fully express it, except to say that if you rolled together every wonderful experience in your life – when your children were born, the first time you met your spouse and fell in love –  just everything, and you rolled it all together for one moment, and your amplified it by about a hundred times, that is what heaven is. I was overcome with joy and peace and a desire to go home [to heaven].”

Today, fully recovered and still happily married, he runs a successful national company with a new view of life and purpose. Nevertheless, he says:

“…there’s a nagging depression in the back of my mind and in my heart that says I want to go home. This is not my home; my home is somewhere else, but God has given me this opportunity to do His work.”

More Lessons from the Book of Job
Recall the wonderfully prosperous life of Job suddenly getting derailed through no fault of his own beyond the spiritual negotiations between God and Satan in the spiritual realm unseen. Yes, sometimes bad things happen and we cannot understand or do anything but weather the storms that wreak havoc in and around us. We can rail against God, or in the case of Job, take on the abuse of well-meaning but cruel friends whose human rational is flawed and found wanting.

While sometimes we reap what we sow or pay the consequences of our own actions, this was never the case with Job. Though Holy God certainly has and will allow human pain and suffering in a dying world that been provided a redemptive out through Christ’s atoning death for human sin, God operates in a spiritual dimension or realm that is beyond mystery or human comprehension.

As Job and Michael Halloran found out, we can only endure and know that we do not understand what God is doing. But He is there and involved. And in the long run, for those that love Him (Romans 8:28), the results in this life (maybe, maybe not), certainly in eternity, are only for good.

God’s Answer to Job
We find the Spirit of God speaking through a fourth and last friend, Elihu, in Job chapter 32-37:

“God is greater than man. Why do you contend against Him?…For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it. (Job 33:12-14)

Far be it from God that He should do wickedness, and from the Almighty that He should do wrong….Of a truth, God will not do wickedly, and the Almighty will not pervert justice….When He is quiet, who can condemn? When He hides His face, who can behold Him, whether it be a nation or a man? (Job 34:10, 29)

“Hear this, O Job, stop and consider the wondrous works of God…The Almighty – we cannot find Him, He is great in power and justice, and abundant righteousness He will not violate. Therefore men fear Him; He does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit.” (Job 37: 14, 24)

And then in chapters 38-41, God speaks directly to Job and essentially echos even more pointedly the wise words of Elihu. Our takeaway is that God is way, way beyond our poor power to fathom and grasp His ways. But as great and glorified and Almighty as He is, He is well aware of all things human – the good and the bad, the wins and the losses, the joy and the pain. He is just, good and inscrutable. He deals with the wicked, in time. We are to fear and revere Him, honor, love, and worship Him. His view and purpose for us in this short lifetime is but a glimpse of the richness and fullness that is awaiting in eternity for those who believe and obey Him.

With that perspective, may we ably endure the wonderful highs and terrible lows until we all return home to unspeakable joy.

Are you questioning God?
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. – Romans 8:18

1 ENGAGE, http://www.connect.sv (formerly The Silicon Valley Prayer Breakfast – Quarterly Networking Event), February 6, 2019.

2 Finding God in Silicon Valley – Spiritual Journeys in a High-Tech World, by Skip Vaccarello, Creative Team Publishing, 2015, pp. 145-161.

Categories: Abundant Living, Books of the Bible, Calling, Devotion, Evil, Faith, Marketplace, Purpose, Suffering

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