Archive for March, 2010

 

Twenty-fifth in the series Get close to God

 

Take up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  (Ephesians 6:16)

 

A series of tragedies and heartaches have attacked my family and some of my friends the last couple of months.  This has stirred up feelings of confusion, anger, and sadness that have been hard to deal with.  It has challenged my faith and made me question how much God really cares about us, that maybe we’re just unfortunate victims falling prey to the schemes of the evil one.  Rain falls on the just and unjust, right?

Up to now, I’ve always had answers to explain why bad things happen to good people, at least ones good enough to satisfy me.  But not this time.  The hurt, disappointment, and frustration has run too deep, and has robbed a good portion of my peace and joy.

When I read the scriptures I find that I am not alone.  Hebrews 11 details those who experienced severe persecution and they “did not receive what was promised.”  Look at all that Job had lost and don’t you know that Abraham was scratching his head when the Lord told him to sacrifice his son.  Even Jesus asked his Father, “Why have you forsaken me?”

I believe God intervenes and delivers us from evil when we ask him to as Jesus modeled in his prayer.  But does delivering us from evil mean that pain and suffering and sorrow will not touch us?  Stuff still happens to the best of saints.  Look what Jesus, Paul, Peter, and others had to endure.  Did evil triumph over them?  No!  Were they immune to the effects of evil?  No!

I know trials and challenges are necessary to build perseverance and character but sometimes the suffering seems to be over the top.  For example, last month a young lady that I work with in our office lost her beautiful 18 month old daughter to a choking accident.  I ask you, what possible good can come out of that?  Or, for that matter, from starving children that die every day, people getting crushed in earthquakes or washed away by Tsunamis?  If God is all-powerful and loving he could stop all that, right?  So why doesn’t he?  For the first time in my life I’m not satisfied with the usual Christian explanations that used to put my mind at ease.  

So what am I to do with these unresolved issues?  I figure I’ve got three options:

  • Conclude there is no God (atheism)
  • Stay confused (agnosticism)
  • Trust God to sustain me until I do understand, if not in this life, surely in the next.

If I go with one of the first two I get to live without hope and purpose.  If I’m right, end of story when I die.  If I’m wrong, I’ll be in for a rude awakening.   If I go with the last option I’ll have hope and purpose.  If I’m right, eternal bliss awaits me.  If I’m wrong, then I’ll rest in peace.  I’m not a betting man, but number three looks pretty good to me!

I just talked to my sister, Deborah, and she reminded me that while Jesus was healing every one else, he let his close, but sick friend, Lazarus, die.  When Jesus finally showed up, Martha obviously felt let down and betrayed.  “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  Her sister, Mary, was so upset with him she didn’t even want to come greet him.   They had no way of knowing their nightmare was about to be turned into a glorious miracle.  Their timing was not his timing. 

My other sister, Karen, gave me some good advice recently.  She said “Just when we think we love and trust God with our whole hearts, He presents us with a new angle.  He is saying ‘Do you trust what you believe or what I say?'”  At first, I wasn’t sure what she meant by that, and she said she wasn’t either, so it must have come from the Lord!  I think what God is trying to say is to quit trying to figure him out, quit trying to explain him, and quit trying to defend him.  That’s not my responsibility.  I need to stop trusting in my neat little belief system about Christ and start trusting in what he says, period!  And what does he say?  That I can cast my anxiety on him because he cares for me, that he will never leave me, and that he knows what he’s doing.

_____________________________________________________________

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  (Hebrews 11:1)

 _____________________________________________________________ 

If we knew what God was doing and why, would we need faith?  I don’t think faith is really faith until we can trust God in spite of what doesn’t make sense.   He puts our shields of faith through endurance testing to make sure they are battle ready.

_____________________________________________________________

I need to learn to be OK with God when things are not OK in my life.

  ______________________________________________________________

Does this mean we should be happy all the time and enjoy all our trials?  I don’t think so.  Jesus wept, too, remember?  It’s OK to cry out to God and let him know how upset you are.

_____________________________________________________________

 “To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven… a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.”  (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4)

_______________________________________________________  

What it does mean is that we don’t have to give in to despair or depression, because our pain and sorrow are only for a season (some longer than others,) it’s all for a purpose, and it’s all in the hands of a loving Father, not the ruler of this world and not the random acts of fate or chance.

There’s a good reason faith is referred to as a shield.  Without it, we are unprotected and vulnerable against the flaming arrows of the evil one who does his best to take us down with hardships, setbacks, and betrayals.  We may think God isn’t paying attention to us, but there are angels and demons fighting over our souls every day.  Open our eyes, Lord, to see the big picture.  Help us to remember that you are with us in our pain, the strain, and the mundane.

So, my co-heirs and siblings in Christ, let’s keep our shields up and lock them together as soldiers did in battle (thanks, Janet, for that analogy!)  I believe outcomes hang in the balance and can go either way depending on our prayers or lack of them.  I want to thank all of you for interceding for me and my family and friends.  I couldn’t go on without you, much less write another post on this blog!  We’ll get through this war as we fight side by side, because…

 

“In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.”  (Romans 8:37)

 

To leave a reply, click on the Comment link

 

Click here for the entire Get Close to God series

Advertisements