The number of prayer requests from people having a really difficult time sometimes overwhelms me. Some are dealing with being out of a job, and other ones are fighting to stay alive or have a loved one in that battle. Whether it is life threatening or non-life-threatening, there is still stress, a sense of helplessness, and an overwhelming desire to do something to end the trial or reduce it to a livable level. Anyone who has been in harsh trial knows that it doesn’t come to a finish by our timetable. So we often cry for help.
I have pity for people who do not know God, and that have never had the experience of the Holy Spirit comforting their souls. They do not know the One that is at the other end of a genuine prayer of faith. Their almost immediate response when something knocks their life into a spin is to find a solution in the world system. They turn to alcohol, to a doctor for a prescription drug that will dull the effect of what they are dealing with, or illegal drugs that shut out reality by making them unable to recognize it. But that’s like sleeping drunk in a pen full of snakes. They’ll still be there when they wake up and will likely strike if they move.
Someone may ask, “Okay, so people of the world have hardships, but why do bad things happen to Christians?” As Solomon wrote long ago, “time and chance happens to us all.” Although the true Christian may avoid many of the dangers associated with sinfulness, we are susceptible to the woes that come with living in a sin-cursed world. We get sick, have accidents, and may suffer because of someone else’s mistakes or bad decisions, or we may die. Christ warned us that in the world we would have tribulation.
But here’s my point. Lost people must try to make do with what is available to them in this temporalness. However, the child of God reaches into eternity when the desperation of a crushing trial drapes its smothering dread around his or her shoulders. It doesn’t always end the trial, but we find strength to endure until we can come out the other side of it.
I remember when I was in a trial so brutal and suffocating that I literally reached the end of my hope. No matter how long I live I will never forget its crush on my spirit. I thought I was tough, that I could stand no matter how difficult the battle became. But I was wrong. I was out of options and out of hope. All that I could do was to stumble out the back door, go halfway down the porch steps, sit down and say, “God, I hurt.” Then I wept profusely. God gave me the strength to endure it.
Why did God let me go through that? For what possible good purpose was it that one of His children should suffer to such a degree? The answer is that some changes that must occur in us can only happen painfully. Additionally, some experiences essential to understanding how to effectively use the gifts God imparts to us are acquired with pain.
Through the long and difficult trial spiked with intense and harsh trials within the trial, God broke me, washed many things out, strengthened my faith immensely, and much more. One thing in the “much more” was He gave me compassion for people that I had never known before. We sing, “To be like Jesus,” but do we realize that we are asking for qualities that can only be acquired via the furnace of affliction?
That leads me to another reason for this article. Not everything that happens to us is ordered by God, but everything is used by Him. There are hardships that we may go through that we are not delivered from the way we wish, but He delivers us. Other times we pray and we hope, and yet painfully and slowly go through them. The clear fact based on many years of life on this jaded sphere is that people have operations, take medications, or endure a lifetime of some debilitating birth defect or as the result of injury or disease. Some people die.
We now have technology and discoveries in the pharmaceutical field that can work wonders, but not miracles. Miracles belong only to God and He in His infinite wisdom decides when He will intervene supernaturally in our lives. We do not have the mental capacity to understand all the factors that influence His decisions. We can ask “Why,” But we may not always get the answer that we seek. In my long trial, that my wife also went through, I prayed many times for the answer to “Why,” but only heard the word “Wait.”
We want to know why because we need a reason for our suffering. A wise man once said, “despair is suffering without a reason.” We may become despondent or angry when we believe that God will not give us a reason. Some people that lost a loved one to the grave have become bitter at God because He did not prevent it and would not tell them why. Oh, He tells us, but we don’t always like the answer because it is really not what we wish to hear. The reason this temporal realm is full of things that can injure or harm us. We really do struggle to survive in a place of cause and effect. God must consider the effect of our life or death on many people’s lives. Contrary to some people’s notions, God chooses not to micromanage this realm.
It is in the struggle to understand what this journey down here is about that we realize how frail we are and how much we need Him. God does not promise that earth will become heaven after we believe in Christ and surrender to Him. He does not promise that we will no longer experience weeping and sorrow or know the sulfuric atmosphere of a fiery trial. Instead, He promised to save us from the power of sin and its consequences and to give us eternal life in His kingdom above.
The world system has many dangers that tend to overshadow that promise and to draw our focus onto this temporal realm and all its offerings. Its proclivity to hurt us or infect us with disease is often used by our mortal enemy to incite us against God. But here is the end of our battle to understand. No matter what we go through, how painful or stressful it may become, and even when there is no hope by the logic of this realm, we must never doubt that God will be with us no matter what. Peace dawns from resolving that whether we live or die, we will have victory. It has compelled and encouraged Believers to risk their lives in a foreign country when they could have remained in the comfort and safety of home. It is the reason why we can look every trial in the face and say, “Father, not my will but Thine be done.”
God has healed many of His people and delivered them from death. Other ones He allowed to finish their course. Our greatest battle is not with a brutal or potentially deadly trial. It is the battle to trust God fully whether the outcome is life or when it is obviously death.
I confess that it is a frightening thing to think about and very difficult to open our minds and reason it to a proper conclusion. However, until we do so we will be limited and even distracted by the deception we have the right to live here, that this world is our home. It is not. Christ has prepared a place for us that we will eventually depart for. We fear that trip because death is an ominous threat that goads our instinct to survive. That is naturally fearful to think about, as it should be. However, there is no fear, no pain, no sorrow, nor any other thing in our eternal home to disturb the perfect joy and perpetual happiness.
Therefore, an individual that places his or her life in God’s hands knows that sickness will have to depart, the money will arrive to meet our needs, hope will be revived and discouragement will flee, dangers will pass, dark clouds will give way to sunshine, and healing will come, as long as our purpose as His surrendered vessels remains to be fulfilled. But when we finish our work, and the “silver cord is loosed, or the golden bowl is broken,” we will not suffer loss but gain heaven.
Our hope is in Christ and His promise. That is the bedrock of our faith—not that enough faith and positive confessions will convince God that we should receive a miracle—but that whatever God chooses as the result of our trial we are willing to commit to. After all, we belong to Him, our life is not our own, and we trust and obey Him because He is God and Christ is our Savior.
The question “Why” was actually asked by our enemy when we first surrendered to God, and he asks it many times when we choose godliness over sin. I can answer, him with, “Because He is my Lord and Savior and I owe Him my life.” I trust God to keep what I have committed to Him—my life. He will do the same for all His people.
We pray with that faith and confidence not only for ourselves, but also for the many people that are going through crushing trials. We trust Him because He loves us and will do what is best. His faithfulness is revealed in the many ways that He has loaded us with benefits. One day He will load heaven with all His people. The moment we arrive will be our ultimate victory. No one will ever again ask “Why.” Until then, we should keep our minds in heaven with our feet on on the ground.