May 29, 2017

Responding to Trials

Why do we think life is supposed to be easy?

When our actual circumstances differ from our ideal plans and wishes, why do we feel like everything’s going wrong?

Why do tell ourselves that it’s just “one thing after another” and we “can’t take much more” of it? Why do we feel so helpless sometimes, like life is spinning out of control like some crazy amusement park ride, so dizzying in its intensity that we feel like we can’t hold on much longer?

Yeah, I’ve felt like this. So have you. So has everybody who’s ever lived on this earth. But guess what – we don’t have to feel out of control and overwhelmed by life. We don’t have to feel like we’re drowning under the weight of everything, or like we’re free-falling through space with nowhere to land.

We can be hopeful. We can be at peace. We can have courage and strength and grace to face everything. Why?

Because our God is more than enough. Because our God knows what we need before we even ask for it. Because He will provide everything we truly need in this life, whether physically or emotionally or spiritually.

When Job was struck with trouble beyond his imagination, he must have felt bewildered and overcome with what was happening. But his testimony is recorded for us in Scripture: he remained content with God’s sovereignty. Sure, he cried out in anguish. He felt crushed by grief. But look at what he asks in the very beginning of it all [Job 2:10]:

Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?

In other words, why do we expect this life to be easy? Look through the New Testament. We’re told over and over again that in this world, we will face tribulation. We’re told to cast our cares at the feet of Jesus – meaning that we will have cares in this life. God’s Word speaks over and over again about suffering and affliction, and yet we expect ease and comfort. We don’t want illness or financial struggles or relational trouble or anything else that causes any pain at all. We want the roses without the thorns, the rainbow without the storms.

Yet God allows evil to afflict us. He who has authority over everything grants permission for trials to hinder our paths. He allows the effects of our sin nature to bear consequences in our bodies. He allows imperfection and pain in every one of His children’s lives.

But He weaves that pain and imperfection together with joy and blessings, to produce a beautiful testimony of His grace. He blends together our struggles with His strength, to let His goodness and glory shine through the most wretched situations.

He has His own plans for us, and sometimes they include things that seem too difficult for us to face. But those circumstances are always under His authority. Those circumstances are always for a purpose. And those circumstances are not meant to be walked through in isolation: we are to walk through them with our Savior. We are to look at Him instead of the stormy waves raging at our feet. We are to focus on Him rather than the shadows and thunderclouds storming around us.

So yes, God grants authority for both good and evil to touch us. But He is our God; He is faithful and good and sovereign. And how we respond to things “going wrong” reflects whether we believe that.

“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.” [Job 1:20]

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