Have you ever wondered where God was during your tragedy or asked why he didn’t make it stop? You aren’t alone. Jesus prepared us to expect problems in Matthew 5. Bad things happen to us all. You might ask what the point is of being a Christian if you suffer the same as everyone else. We aren’t in heaven, we live in a fallen world. As residents of earth, we all experience life with all of its beauty, evils, joys, and sorrows. God is all-powerful, but he doesn’t deliver us from every problem. Sometimes he gives us the love, strength, and wisdom to get through. After my trials, I’d never want to do it without him, but I’m not the only one. In the last two weeks, people I love, have struggled with some of the worst experiences in life. Their responses reveal the hand of God’s blessing within their pain.
“…For He makes His sun rise on those who are evil and on those who are good, and makes the rain fall on the righteous [those who are morally upright] and the unrighteous [the unrepentant, those who oppose Him].Matthew 5:45
He Longs and Waits
Sometimes we face impossible situations, but something redemptive and beautiful happens when we lean into God. Thankfulness springs up. It might be for a good meal, the rain, the sun, even getting an opportunity to wash their hair. God gave us the secret to surviving a trial, to be grateful within it. We hurt and cry, we fall, we rise, but God is there to give us comfort, help, and guidance during the darkest of times. Although we may temporarily lose hope, time with him restores it. I look back without regretting my trials because God worked out many beautiful things in me through these excruciating situations. The Bible says, “The Lord longs to be gracious” to us, and he waits for opportunities to show us his compassion. When you experience this, your heart wells up in thanksgiving.
Thankful for Cancer?
Sometimes life is like a trouble sundae. When one trial after another piles up until it’s more than we can bear. At this point in my Christian walk, I’m retroactively thankful for God’s work in me through these desperate times. I don’t welcome trials, but I rejoice in stage 4 breast cancer and other seemingly impossible situations I face. Since December, both my parents were hospitalized with covid, and my dad didn’t make it. I got covid from caring for them. The cherry on top of this trouble sundae was the shattering of my heel during the Texas Snowmeggeden. Gaining around 20 pounds on narcotics and forced sedentary state was the nuts on top (Maybe it drove me nuts?) I’m still in physical therapy and working every day to learn to walk normally. Sometimes I want to scream, but I still have an unexplainable joy and peace. I don’t believe 1 Thessalonians 5:18 means giving thanks for the pain but giving thanks in them. How? God shows up for us in them with more love and grace than we deserve or expect. No experience can show us that more clearly as our trials.
18 in every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench [subdue, or be unresponsive to the working and guidance of] the [Holy] Spirit.1 Thessalonians 5:18-19
Tales of Hope
I’ve been praying for two women who are battling leukemia. The first, a beloved family member whose journey’s been too long. She just went through the painful decisions on her last treatment option, praying and trusting him through this trying process. The other is battling it for her cherished 6-year-old boy. Cancer is wrought with extremes and riveting challenges to our faith, but these women with peace and gratefulness that defies worldly explanation. Another friend went to the ER with Covid; BP was 40/50, oxy 76, convulsed, lost consciousness, and almost died. She said, “You see, the very second I went down, my pack of angels stood and prayed…I have a village of intercessory prayer warriors who stood in when I could not.” My sweet friend’s husband with covid was intubated today. She posted a photo with her update that said, It Is Well With My Soul.” (That quote is hanging over my mantle.) Tough times show us that even though things look hopeless, we take comfort in knowing that our soul is well.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present[b] help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. SelahIsaiah 30:18
What’s Their Secret?
The secret isn’t a secret at all, it’s evident in the stories of these amazing people. There is a commonality in all of their journeys with pain. They leaned on God, asked for prayer, and found reasons to be thankful. There are times of disappointment, the prognosis looks bad, we cry, but they are grateful. How? They can still have strength, joy, and hope when we ask God for his help. Isaiah 30:18 says that he is “A very present help in trouble.” God is mighty in our weakness. He heals our souls in deeply hidden places that could only be exposed through difficult times. God uses everything we go through to show us his love and compassion. The memories of my worst times are infused with gratefulness for God’s grace, presence, and power within them. God doesn’t prevent trouble from coming our way, but his presence keeps them from sinking us.
16 Rejoice always and delight in your faith; 17 be unceasing and persistent in prayer;1 Thessalonians 5:16-17
We don’t delight in tests, tears, and trials, but we delight in our faith. Why? It yields results. It may not always be the immediate results we prefer, like the miraculous healing or deliverance from trouble. It’s the awestruck wonder you feel when you, at your worst times, experience his love and involvement. That’s delighting in and rejoicing in your faith. Someone once said there are no unbelievers on an airplane about to crash. These times can be our crashing airplane. It’s easier to be unceasing and persistent in prayer when your course is so dire. Another beauty is that when we invite him in, our prayers aren’t riddled with panic, well, maybe at first. As we push through, they shapeshift into an unfathomable peace, unexplainable joy, the relief we have through our faith. God doesn’t deliver us from all of our trials. Sometimes he uses them as an occasion to show us his mighty love and grace when we are utterly helpless.
I like this song today as I meditate on my friends and family.