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.