Sunday, April 03, 2011

He Never Said It Would Be Easy

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed." - 1 Peter 4:12-13 (ESV)

Recently, I was speaking with a friend who mentioned that she was struggling with why God allows his faithful subjects to suffer. She specifically mentioned a family in her church. The father has been undergoing treatment for a brain tumor. Although he is currently in remission, he is still unable to work. His wife works and goes to school and takes care of him and their five children. He does as much as he can, but his treatments have left him weakened and unable to do all that he could before. And, even though he is in remission, the family knows that if/when the cancer returns it will be much more aggressive and it will be only a matter of time before he gets to meet Jesus face to face. Throughout these trials the family has remained faithful to God and His plan for them even though they do not understand it. They rejoice in the time they have together and give thanks for the relationships that they would not have otherwise had.

Hearing the story of this family made me think about the many times I've heard people say that God never said it would be easy to follow Him, or that as a Christian our lives would be easier or free from the hardships that life has. And it's true, God never said either of those things. In fact, there are many passages in the bible that tell us that life will be difficult both despite and because of our faith:

  • Paul speaks of his suffering as an apostle. (2 Corinthians 11:24-26)
  • Jesus tells his disciples they will face tribulations. (John 16:33)
  • Peter writes of it in his letter to the people of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. (1 Peter 4:12)
  • God specifically tells Adam and Eve that life will be hard. (Genesis 3:16-19)
  • Paul and Barnabus tell the disciples. (Acts 14:22)

However, there are also many many passages to encourage us to remain faithful because these are only temporary trials and great joy awaits us and that God is with us through them all:

  • Peter, again, to the people of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.(1 Peter 1:6-7, 1 Peter 4:12-13)
  • Jesus to his disciples. (John 16:33)
  • Paul to the people of Corinth. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
  • God communicates it to the Israelites. (Isaiah 43:2)

Dearest Heavenly Father, thank you for being with us as we go through the trials and troubles of this earthly life. Help us to remember that these times, while painful and often confusing, are only temporary and that they are refining us for our life in heaven with you. I also pray that you continue to be with and provide comfort to all those facing difficult times Give them the peace of knowing that when their journey here is over that they will receive your joyous rest in heaven. In Jesus’ holy name we pray to You.  Amen
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