This week's memory verse:
"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." -- Romans 8:28
A friend and I were talking about suffering just yesterday. We wondered to each other why people have to suffer...why is that little girl in the hospital with a painful disease? Why did a hate crime have to take the lives of innocent horses and deeply wound the heart of their owner? Why did the the earthquake and tsunami in Japan kill THOUSANDS of people? Why are several bad events happening in one man's life right now, causing pain, anguish and financial struggle? Why why why?
Why is such a frustrating question because we know we will never have a satisfying answer in this lifetime. Today's Bible study lesson was another hard one for me...hard to TRULY understand and accept...but comforting in a way too.
James 1:2-4 says we should respond with joy in our trials and struggles because we know that testing of our faith produces perseverance - so we can be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.
That is much easier to see when you are NOT in the middle of the struggle. When you are in pain, it is very hard to put the pain aside and see the benefit from it. AFTER it's over, you can look back and see good that came out if it...but when you are knee deep in trouble, all you want is a way out!
But, seeing good after and during a struggle, and leaning on God the whole time gives you strength and comfort. When you have made it through something hard, especially when you have found the strength of God during it, you remember that experience and can draw from it when another struggle hits you. You can also share your experiences with others, giving them some of the same hope and strength.
I have read of Corrie ten Boom's horrific experiences in a Nazi death camp before. Today, I read a quote from her sister, Betsie ten Boom that touched me. "How wonderful that the reality of His presence is greater than the reality of the hell about us." If she could say that after all that those two girls went through, certainly I can lean on my faith that God is with me, even in the horrible times, right?
Hebrews 12:7-11 talks about God using our struggles as discipline. I must admit, this is where I get ouchy....God uses tragedies to teach us a lesson? What did that little girl do that landed her in so much pain in a hospital bed?
The Message Translation states it: "This trouble isn't your punishment, it's training." "God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God's holy best."
When we see God IN our struggles, we see that those struggle produce good things in us and a more mature relationship with God.
I am seeing that now as I have had much unrest worry over my family's financial situation...until I get right with it and truly surrender all my spending, saving and giving over to God, and stop living like it all belongs to me...I will continue to struggle and have unrest. I am learning lessons from my struggles...God's discipline for me.
I also see it in my past...when I was at my lowest, I was driven to my knees... SEARCHING for answers and relief from my pain. I was drawn to my church and to a relationship with Christ, and I have been SO rewarded with some of the closest, dearest and most supportive friends I have ever known. They make me see I am NOT alone! God gave me what I needed. Had I not had to go through those dark days, I may not have seen the need for church and those supportive friends.
I don't think I will ever totally understand why people have to deal with such tragedies as my friend I were discussing yesterday. But I can have FAITH that our God uses those experiences to train us and draw us closer to Him.