When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty.
You will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression.
You will not be burned up;
The flames will not consume you.
Isaiah 43:2 NLT
Wonderful verse to read in the Bible and most encouraging - a true word for our Lord and God YET....
When we are actually going through some really rough times often it is so hard to keep trusting God.
When you have just been diagnosed with cancer and you are facing a huge operation or like my friend Rick who was told there was no hope and only had weeks to live, when your child is killed in a horrific accident on the way home from school - where is God?
When you lose your job and your whole family is depending on your income, when you, like me had been sexually abused as a teenager and the person responsible has never been brought to justice ~ in fact the other extreme has happened where he has seemingly gone on to bigger and better things in life - where is God?
When your siblings refuse to believe you, when your best friend suicides and you are left to wonder if you could have done something to prevent it, when you are accused wrongly of something and no one stands up for you - where is God?
It's hard to come to terms when all you hear is that God is loving and kind and He always has your best interest at heart.
The thing is that death and suffering is the punishment for sin - God said that would happen when Adam walked away from God way back after creation The whole world went bonkers after that and sin and death went wild.
Not our personal sin! - I believe strongly that God doesn't punish us by sending tragedy in our lives for our sins, past or otherwise - It's just that sin is rampant in our world and we are part of that world and with that comes all the other horrible things that happen.
We as Christians are certainly not exempt from all these things happening to us. It's part of being in a fallen world and living in a broken world where sin, death and tragedy reign supreme.
The real realty is that undeserved suffering can pounce on any of us at any time - often blowing us away with the severity of each and every blow. None of us not even one of us is perfect, bad things can still happen which are definitely not the direct result of some sin we have committed. This of course raises the issue of why God allows this to happen?
Seemingly undeserved suffering happens! In this respect, it's how we respond to God when it happens and how we as Christians react to this suffering is far more important. Jesus sets us an example to follow here recorded for us faithfully in 1 Peter 2: 19-23 quoted here in the Contemporary English Version.
"God will bless you, even if others treat you unfairly for being loyal to Him. You don't gain anything by being punished for some wrong you have done. But God will bless you, if you have to suffer for doing something good. Christ did not sin or ever tell a lie. Although he was abused he never tried to get even. And when he suffered he made no threat. Instead, he had faith in God, who judges fairly."
We may never understand why bad things happen and why we have to face trouble and often the very unthinkable things that happen to us. But on saying all of that we as Christians also have something that the world with all of it's terror and tragedy can't take away from us and never will.
Jesus tells us that we will face these troubling things in the world but He goes on to say "but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" John 16:33. Jesus died to provide the solution to death and punishment - He rose again to smack death and punishment on the head, never to rule over us.
We have the answer this hurting old world of ours needs - we have hope in the risen Saviour, now and for eternity.
Life can be so so confusing at times. Unexpected bad things can happen in a twinkling of an eye just like good things can happen in exactly the same time. We may have to go through long long periods of struggle, anguish, grieving and flat out misery. There will be times when we just wish God would tell us what is actually going on here? But he doesn't - very frustrating but that is exactly what life here on earth is all about.
All this mystery and frustration can serve to reinforce to us that if we want to live this life of ours to the full, it's really not a matter of knowing why things happen: it's a matter of knowing THE God who knows why these things happen.
Life can be surprising and sad, confusing and happy ~ none of which we may never understand fully. I believe the way through it is not to try to nail down the meaning of every event and to have all the answers but to know the God who knows everything. The way to negotiate life is to know Jesus.
For this reason, when bad or good things happen to us is not to grapple with "Why is this happening to me? " Rather let's consider this:- "Since this is happening to me, how can I use it to know God better through Jesus?"
Life is about staying close to God and trusting Him even when bad things happen because staying close to God is far more valuable than not suffering.