Do you remember Rabbi Kushner’s bestselling “When Bad Things Happen To Good People?” His thesis was that we must forgive God for losing control.
How different from the dialogue at the close of the book of Job.
So if God knows what He is doing, if He has not lost control, why do bad things happen to good people? Why does a godly man like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who had the courage to take a stand against Hitler, die naked by hanging when victory is just about to be announced? He was but thirty-nine. Why are there martyrs at all?
Here are the questions for your next quiet times.
1. According to Job 38, what are some of the reasons we should respect that God knows what He is doing?
2. Sometimes God does deliver — and sometimes He does not. What do you learn from Hebrews 11:30-40?
3. What are the flaws in Rabbi Kushner’s argument?
4. What do you learn from other materials about the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer? If any of you have read his books, watched documentaries on his life, or have something encouraging about him to share — please do!
5. Bonhoeffer certainly left a legacy. His book, The Cost of Discipleship, has transformed so many lives. Certainly his model as well. His book on the Psalms is amazing, and has impacted me. Here is a quote from Bonhoeffer that I’d like you to meditate and comment on, because the next things we are going to do, in three days, in learn how to start praying the psalms.
It is a dangerous error, certainly very widespread among Christians, to think that the heart can pray by itself. …Prayer does not mean simply to pour out one’s heart. It means rather to find the way to God and to speak with him, whether the heart is full or empty.
…If we wish to pray with confidence and gladness, then the words of Holy Scripture will have to be the solid basis of our prayer. For here we know that Jesus Christ, the Word of God, teaches us to pray. The words which come from God become, then, the steps on which we find our way to God.
Now there is in the Holy Scriptures a book which is distinguished from all books of the Bible by the fact that is contains only prayers. The book is the Psalms.
[i] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1970), pp. 9-13.