TRUSTING GOD IN SUFFERING
It can be hard in our everyday lives to keep our hearts and minds focused on the good things, to have an eternal perspective in the midst of everyday struggles.
Do you ever ask God for something and then question the way He goes about doing it?
I had an “A-ha moment” the other day when I came across a teaching from Habakkuk. The prophet Habakkuk was crying out to God about the suffering His chosen people were going through, and God was answering him. The teacher of this lesson paraphrased God’s response. “I AM going to bring my children back to me by allowing the Babylonians to conquer them.” She stated that the way God works is sometimes to let us go through trials and adversity in order to heal us, restore us and bring us back to Him. The revelation for me was a reminder that in this world we will have trouble, and God can use this to build us up, to correct us and break us free from lesser things.
This does not mean that suffering is from God. We live in a fallen world, and because God has given us free will, our suffering often comes from people who are hurt themselves or who are making bad choices. Sometimes when we are hurting it may feel like God has abandoned us, the truth is, He is always with us. His love for us is never ending. “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5a) He is not the author of pain and suffering, but rather a very present help in the midst of it. He can take horrible things and turn them into something beautiful. Even in hard times God wants to take care of us and grow us in our believing and trusting in Christ. He works through all things to bring good to those who love Him. God’s ways are not our ways. But His love and His presence are with us always.
A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to go with one of my daughters to a camp in Michigan called Champions for Life. There is an amazing church that organizes and offers this camp for kids ages 7 to 12 who have been a part of the foster system. They bring in children who have been abused, neglected, and have had a rough life. These children are hurting and often feel angry, unworthy, and unloved. At camp they make sure that they are safe, they can experience new things, like horseback riding, tree climbing, and kayaking. Volunteers who are trained and screened come alongside the kids to help, encourage, and show them God’s love. The ministry is powerful! They worship and play and tell the children about who God is. They have skits and exercises to help them forgive the people who have hurt them, and to remind them they have value and worth and that the things that happened to them are not their fault.
One of the leaders shared a powerful vision that God had showed her about where He was when her father had locked her in a closet. She had always pictured God as far away with His back turned as she was being abused. She felt alone and abandoned by God. Then our loving God showed her where He was. He was right next to her, shielding her. The blows that struck her, went through Him first. There were so many deep and touching moments at this camp, and these kids were healed and transformed. Sometimes we witnessed the work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts and minds, and other times it was not visible on the outside, yet we knew seeds were being planted and the light of Christ was shining into dark areas.
So let me encourage you in whatever struggles and hardships you may be going through right now. God is with you. He is right there in the midst of your pain and suffering. Let Him show you His love for you which will never fail. Let the light of Christ shine in your darkness. And ask Him to give you an awareness of His presence where there is fullness of joy. These hard times are temporary because this world is not our home. God will make a way through the wilderness, and He will turn your trek into something which can bless others and draw them close to Him if you let Him.
So, we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without His unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times; the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
May God’s grace abound in you. His love enfold and fill you and His hope keep you.