When we undergo pain or suffering of any kind, we often assume we are being punished for our sins. This is understandable. After all, we sin a lot, and we often do deserve it.
A Christian leader may wonder about this even more. Being human, he knows he is not immune to sin or temptation, but he is at least involved in trying to do God's work. He means well. He is doing his best. Why would God allow this important work to be interrupted by pain or suffering or injustice?
In John 9: 1-3 we read:
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him (ESV)."
Jesus then goes on to heal the blind man. Matthew Henry writes:
If God be glorified, either by us or in us, we were not made in vain. This man was born blind, that the works of God might be manifest in him, especially that his extraordinary power and goodness might be manifested in curing him. The difficulties of providence, otherwise unaccountable, may be resolved into this-God intends in them to show himself. [Henry, Matthew Commentary on the Whole Bible edited by L.F. Church. Regency Reference Library (Grand Rapids: Zondervan) 1960. (First published 1708-1710) page 1557].
God's work is to alleviate suffering, pain and injustice. As his servants, it is our job to assist. Moreover, it is our job to show how our faith helps us to cope with trials. It is our job to show how God is working within us.
If our lives were always easy and well-ordered, our faith would not impress anyone. As evangelicals, we must maintain our intimate relationship with God through the worst of times, knowing always that the unsaved are watching and listening. This may seem like a tall order, but we would be making things even more difficult for ourselves if we abandoned God's help and comfort. And if we do reach our limits of endurance and collapse in tears and shouts, we may rest assured God will not give up on us. He will not let us go.
We all love conversion stories, especially from those who seem impossibly lost through drug or alcohol addiction. When they proclaim they did it with God's help, you want to listen. You want to cheer. You want to praise God. Faith that is born in desperation; sustained through hardship; or brought to fruition in crisis is very inspiring faith.
In the day-to-day lives of Christians many challenges and obstacles must be overcome. By depending on God, by obeying God, by praising God we will succeed, even when we think we have failed. The glory of course will belong to God.
In faith and fellowship,
Patrick McKitrick (more...)