I have a number of friends going through some pretty stinky times right now. All three sons-in-law of one friend are facing daunting illnesses and/or trials at work. One dear friend was an innocent victim in a serious car accident this past weekend that resulted in the other driver’s death. She also has other difficult situations occurring around her in her immediate family. And another friend has continuous hardships with her teenaged son.
Trouble. That starts with “t” and that rhymes with “p” and that stands for “pain!”
I hate going through such trying times and I hate it for my friends and family members when they go through them too. I especially loathe those times when you can’t get the question “why” answered.
Sometimes we know the trouble we are reaping is a direct result of the troublesome seeds we have planted. We are indeed reaping what we have sown. We don’t really like to admit it, but we know in the recesses of our heart that it’s true.
But other times, we search our recent behavior and our past decisions and we can find no obvious trail that leads to the path of pain we are now on. We honestly don’t know how we got there. One day life was humming by and within a matter of weeks one troubling situation has piled on top of another until we’re facing a daunting heap of predicaments that we must somehow climb or crawl through, one bad boulder at a time.
So what’s the Christian response in such sorry times? What is the godly way to summit this nasty mountain of pain?
As Jesus and His disciples passed by a begging blind man, without sight from birth, they asked their leader, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
In other words, they were asking, “Why?” The same question we often ask when the going gets tough, almost too tough to handle or comprehend.
Jesus’ reply should resonate with us today.
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.”
Does that make you feel better or worse? It probably depends on your concept of the purpose of life. If you believe your purpose is to be comfortable, to be happy, to have fun, to experience the fullness of life…then Jesus’ response to the disciples’ searching question probably only makes you angry.
But if you realize that the Bible teaches that our purpose is indeed to glorify God throughout our lives, then Jesus’ answer actually ought to excite you.
Is that a stretch? Maybe so, but consider that when you are weak, He is strong. When we are in need, He is sufficient. That through Him we can do all things. That He who began a good work will see it through. That He can work all things together for good in our lives.
When we are going through troubling times, we will certainly hurt, cry some tears, and cry out in anguish, but we can also know that God is at work. And when we yield to that work, submit to His loving hand in our lives, and lean on Him as He holds us up, then our lives, pain and all, can actually serve as a light that reflects God’s light and leads others to Him.
We can actually do our “greatest work”, so to speak, when we are up against the greatest obstacles. And the truth is, sometimes God allows us to go through some pretty difficult times in order to draw our attention and the attention of others to Him.
Our trouble shines a little light on our God if we don’t dim that light with all of our whining and wrestling and “why-ing.”
So, while I don’t mean to make light of anyone’s pain or trouble today, (I am so sorry if you too are struggling with personal problems today…) I do encourage you to see your troubles through Jesus’ eyes. Allow God to be glorified through your pain. For me, the consolation in that is that your pain is not wasted when it is used to bring someone else to God. Not wasted at all, but cashed in for a higher value.
Are you troubled today? Look for God in your pain and reflect His glory in your response. When life is hard, God is great.