You've got to {Have Faith}

Life is hard.  Who's with me?! 

As a faithful woman, I believe in prayer. 
Some of the things I pray for include:
good health
specific individuals
a good night's sleep
Seriously, the list goes on and on.
God never promised that we would live a life without struggle and hardship. It's going to happen. God told us it's going to happen; not 'if', but 'when'. And when it does, that's when our faith is tested the most! 
So many difficult and tragic things happen that cause us to doubt God's existence and whether or not His way is the right way. Click here for a list of a few of the tragedies since 1995 that have shocked our nation to the core. 
Faith is not questioned only on the large-scale issues, but in everyday life as well. "Why is my loved one facing such financial ruin?" "Why is my mother so sick?" "Why is there not enough food to go around for everyone?" "Why does cancer even exist?" "Why is there so much suffering in the world?"
Why does God allow tragedy and suffering?
The answer is simple: "I do not know.
I cannot stand in God's shoes with His mind.  He knows all things; we don't.  But it is written,

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. - 1 Corinthians 13:12

When you ask about specific events and want to know why a particular thing happened, we don't get the full answer in this world.  Someday, we'll see with clarify, but for now things are foggy. We have a finite perspective of everything, and we simply cannot understand it all. 

To those going through a difficult time, whether it be the effects of a mass casualty situation, the loss of a loved one by cancer, financial hardship, or poverty, they desperately need the real and comforting presence of Jesus Christ in their lives so that they may know peace. 

It's very well known that when you pray for something, the way you perceive and ask of it is not necessarily how it will happen.  God has a plan for everything and everyone.  You've got to have faith that when it's time, it'll happen. It's so easy to get frustrated and caught up in your own wants and needs - I'm guilty of this all too often.  I just take a deep breath and remind myself that it's all in His hands, and I trust in Him. 

When you're questioning 'why', remember:

1. God is not the creator of evil and suffering. 
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. - Genesis 1:31

This answers the question we hear all too often: "Why didn't God merely create a world where tragedy and suffering didn't exist?"  HE DID!  Love is the highest value in the universe, and God wanted us to experience love.  But in order to have the ability to experience this, God had to give us free will to decide whether or not to love.  Love always involves a choice.  As humans, we've abused our free will by rejecting God and walking away from Him.  Enter, evil. 

2. Though suffering isn't good, God can use it to accomplish good.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. - Romans 8:28
This is God's promise that he will cause good to emerge, not that he causes evil and suffering. If we're committed to following Him, he promises that good will come of every bad and terrible situation.  Think about it, when you're completely encompassed in tragedy, grief, and anger, do you think to yourself, "Hey, it's okay because I know that good will become of this situation.  I know I will better because I have experienced this pain." The answer 90% of the time is no.  Of course you don't. You are so terribly hurt and are grieving that you do not see outside of that particular situation - sometimes for years to come. But God does - He knows that experiencing what you did will cause you to become better because of it, if not only stronger to deal with the next wave of suffering. 

3. The day is coming when suffering will cease and God will judge evil.
The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. - 2 Peter 3:9

The Bible says that the story of this world is not over yet.  The day will come when sickness and pain will be eradicated and people will be held accountable for the evil they've committed.  (and here comes my all-time favorite sentence...) Justice will be served in a perfect way.  That day will come, but not yet.  Why? Well, God is waiting for US. He is holding out that more will come to follow His will and spend eternity in Heaven.  We are still a work in progress, people!  This also reminds us that life is short and is very fragile.  We've all seen it! We have got to have faith and live our lives even amongst the pain and suffering.  You never know when your last day will be your last.

4. Our suffering will pale in comparison to what God has in store for his followers.
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. - 2 Corinthians 4:17
Now, that's pretty heavy.  But when you put your bad days into context, they aren't worth comparing with the 'eternity of blessings and joy' you are to experience. God promises a time with no more tears, no more heartache, no more agony when we will be reunited with God in perfect harmony, forever. 
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. - 1 Corinthians 4:9

5. We decide whether to turn bitter or turn to God for peace and courage.
I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. But be courageous! I have conquered the world. - John 16:33
I've personally seen the same (or near similar) set of circumstances cause one person to reject God and become bitter and another to turn to God and become more gentle and loving.  That's right, we get to decide. Are you going to let what is currently happening momentarily in your life fill your heart with hatred and turn away from God?  Or are you going to allow it to fill your heart with peace and comfort knowing that it was God's will to be done?  Again, you get to decide. 

God offers us two things we need when we're hurting: peace to deal with our present and courage to deal with our future. Check out this excerpt:
Through His own suffering and death, He has deprived this world of its ultimate power over you. Suffering doesn’t have the last word anymore. Death doesn’t have the last word anymore. God has the last word!

How amazing! That definitely lifts my spirit when I'm in a dark place. Suffering is a personal problem; it demands a personal response.  My response is that you've got to have faith.  Salvation comes from knowing Christ personally and receiving His provision for YOUR sin and YOUR future. It comes from making him YOUR Savior, by asking Him to forgive YOUR every sin, and by asking Him to lead YOUR life. 

This post was inspired by and references a message delivered by Lee Strobel at Cherry Hills Community Church in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. 

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1 comment:

Susannah said...

Isn't it such a blessing that we serve such an amazing God that we can trust, even in the midst of suffering? It's hard sometimes but also so freeing.

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