Friday, September 26, 2014

Hardship

In this country we do not have a very good theology or understanding of suffering. Suffering or hardship is not an if, it is when, do I have a witness? I suspect all readers are saying yes. And you may be saying, where is God?  He is where he always has been seeing, hearing our cries and answering them for his glory and our good. So what does the Bible say about suffering or hardship?

Even Jesus asked “Why have you forsaken me?” to his Father as recorded in Matt 27:46 and Psalms 22 written hundreds of years before. Perhaps the most difficult and yet helpful scriptures on the subject are written by Jesus’s brother James when under persecution to help his brethren understand. “Consider it joy my brothers when you meet trials of diverse kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance or steadfastness. And perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete lacking nothing.” (James 1:2).  This is saying that we will have trouble and it is for our good, if we will stay under it. What? My first instinct is to run and get out from under. But God is saying that it happens and he allows it to develop us.

So what do we do? Well, the next verse answers that question. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”  But we must trust and believe that God will answer us through: our prayer; through his word; through other godly people; or circumstances, his will for us.

God will answer, but he is also saying, stay under, remain under the trial until it has accomplished its purpose. This is one of the toughest lessons and teachings there is. God will bring about good in the trial or storm in our lives.


I could relate many stories, but let me just share one. I once worked on the staff of a large church responsible for congregational care during a very tumultuous time. Circumstances became increasingly stressful on all staff and congregation. I wanted to quit, but God was telling me to stay even though the pain and even depression were overtaking me. It turned out that all pastoral staff except me was asked to leave. I stayed in the storm to try to care for those remaining. The stress and uncertainty was overwhelming, but I tried to persevere. Only after a year of turmoil did an answer come. During Sunday services as I led worship from the front row, the Holy Spirit came down and embraced me. Joyfulness and instant healing occurred. Not only did my fear and depression leave, but a strong feeling of good will and power came over me. God had released me from my nightmare. I had stayed under the trial and accomplished God’s work for the congregation and me. He was releasing me of my call to go care for others. Yes, God is faithful and he will bring us wisdom and healing if we wait and obey and remain under the trial. We may need counseling, care and help from many others. But God is faithful. 
Are you undergoing a trial?  Are 

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