My friend and her family are navigating through difficult times. Job issues, money problems, and health challenges pile on top of each other and compound their individual effects.
A "friend" at church urged her to have more faith, because obviously if you are having problems it is a sign you don't have enough faith.
Instead of yelling some words that Jesus would never utter, may I just say, BALONEY!
If we suffer it means we don't have enough faith? Tell that to faithful Syrian believers who trudge through the desert looking for a safe haven from the hordes of ISIS.
Tell that to joyful Vietnamese pastors who ride bikes across their country to get to small churches, tying to avoid the secret police who would imprison them.
Tell that to the historical martyrs, like all the Disciples, Perpetua, John Huss, John Wycliffe, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, or Jim Elliot.
What about Corrie ten Boom who spent years in a Nazi concentration camp? Or Meriam Ibrahim who was chained to the wall in a Sudanese prison?
Ok- rant over. Although it really winds me up to hear such un-Biblical foolishness, that just piles guilt on hurting people.
If suffering means you don't have enough faith then Abraham and Sarah wouldn't have been infertile, Jeremiah wouldn't have been weeping, and Paul wouldn't have been imprisoned.
Oops- I think I started ranting again.
Jesus, Not Karma!
Our limited understanding of cause and effect makes the theory that bad stuff happens to me because of something bad in me, seem reasonable. But that is karma, not Jesus.
Our Creator God is not subject of karma. His eternal perspective views difficulties and sees their results, not just the present uncomfortableness.
1 Thessalonians 4:3a says, "For this is the will of God, your sanctification..." (NASB) Wait a minute. God's will isn't my happiness, my prosperity, or my health? He isn't just concerned for my now, but is concerned for my eternity?
According to Philippians 2:13, "for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." (ESV) So if God is working IN ME for His pleasure (which may or may not feel pleasurable to me while it is happening, by the way) then He gets to use whatever hammer and chisel He wants. There is nothing like a little suffering or difficulty to wake up my sluggish heart and turn my bleary eyes back to Jesus.
The Lord Is With You
Are you going through a dark valley right now? Does it feel like one trial after another is bearing down on you? Do your prayers seem to not be working?
There is nothing more important for you to do right now than pray. Even if answers seem long in coming, keep praying! Next week we will discuss PERSEVERANCE in praying.
But for now, remember Who our Lord is. "It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed." (Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV)
Your trials do not signal that there is something wrong in your life. Your Father is with you in the midst of the storm. Slip your hand in His. Hang on tight. Trust Him to carry you. And then lean into the wind. He will carry you through.