Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12

Thursday, May 19, 2011

“Life is Hard - God is Good”

Life has been hard these last few months. Funny how you can go so long without trouble then it all breaks loose. You know what I mean - “when it rains it pours”, or so it seems. I’m sure you can relate. When we’re faced with trials and suffering, we want answers. Why? How long? Where are you God? What did I do to deserve this? But God gives us something other than a bunch of answers. His answer does not come in the form of an explanation. No, the answer to our suffering is God Himself.

It’s difficult sometimes to believe that God is good when our world is collapsing around us. How can a good God allow us to endure such pain? To be quite honest - I still struggle with this one. But I once heard it said that suffering is not God’s way of torturing us, rather, it’s His way of teaching us - and I am learning more and more every day.

For one thing, I know that my hardships lead me to Him. I am the closest to Jesus when I am dependent on Him to meet my needs. I can do nothing in my own power - I am a weak person, but in my weakness, He is made strong! I have also learned that my sufferings cause me to be more sensitive to the needs of others. I am much more able to help my neighbor when I know how they feel and more able to provide comfort, hope and words of encouragement when I can testify to God’s goodness in my own brokenness.

Not only does my pain cause me to run to Him, but it also causes me to worship Him and to grow my faith. Oh, the worship that breaks forth when our good God comes through! When He provides us with the strength to get through the day - He is worthy of praise! When He lifts our burden - He is worthy of praise! When He places contentment in our hearts - He is worthy of praise! With each breath we take - He is worthy of praise! It’s easy to rejoice when life is good and it’s smooth sailing, but God delights in us when we worship Him even in the tough times. It takes a greater faith to worship God in want, than to worship Him in plenty.

I had the privilege of visiting a precious saint and prayer warrior of our church while she was in the hospital recently. I was amazed at how many stories of faith she had to share. One by one she recounted, all ending with “God is so good. I’m so thankful.” But one particular story stood out to me. She told me of her son who was diagnosed as deaf at six and a half months old and how she faithfully prayed for his condition. For many years she believed that God was going to heal him and restore his hearing, but as time passed she began to question God and His goodness. Why would God allow her precious child to remain deaf?

Her son is grown now and married to a beautiful woman who is also deaf. But the one thing she said that made the most impact on me was this, “I didn’t understand God’s ways until my son and his wife adopted three deaf orphans. Because of their own deafness, they can communicate and have provided them with a home and a family where they are understood and loved!”

It doesn’t always feel like our pain is serving any purpose. But God allows us to go through suffering to fulfill His plan for our lives. He sees the big picture, we only see bits and pieces. What Satan means to harm us - God can turn around for our good and the good of others. Romans 8:28 says, “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.”

Despite knowing that suffering draws me closer to God, that hardships help me to help others, that pain leads me to worship, that trials grow my faith, and that tribulations can lead to fulfilling God’s purposes, it still can be difficult to swallow in the midst of suffering. I know that God is able to take away my pain with one word spoken from His lips - He has the power! But until then, I will seek God Himself instead of answers and choose to walk this journey of faith believing that God is in control and holds me in the palm of His hand. For I will rest in the truth in which I cling, “Life is hard, but God is good!”

I invite you to listen to the song, "Life is Hard, but God is Good" by Pam Thum. I pray it blesses you as much as it blesses me. (You will want to mute the music player at the bottom of the page prior to loading the video.)