|Photo by 7 Nation Army 2008|
When we first become born-again believers by placing our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6), we may feel overwhelming relief as He lifts the tremendous burden of sin from our shoulders. But as the days or years pass and our initial euphoria subsides, we may feel disappointed that being Christian does not mean that our problems are over.
Far from it, for Satan targets not only the newly saved believer but particularly mature leaders who are being most productive for God, and everyone in between (1 Peter 4:12-13; 5:8). God’s Word counsels us to put on the whole armor of God to ward off the attacks of the devil (Ephesians 6:11-18).
No matter how faithful we are to do this, Christians as well as the unsaved can expect the shadow and sorrow of physical death and of all the heartache in this world, for all still experience the curse of sin during our earthly life (Romans 3:23-24; Genesis 3:16-19). And yet, praise God, believers have Christ to comfort, heal and deliver us (Psalm 25:12-20; 42; 56:1-4,13; 116:3-9; 62:5-8; 68:20; Proverbs 24:11-12; Isaiah 38:17; 2 Corinthians 4:8-9).
I don’t know how those who don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus can endure the pain and sadness of this world. Comparing my own emotional life before and after I was saved, from despair and turmoil to joy and peace in the Lord, reminds me of this. And yet, no life is free of earthly cares.
Sometimes believers may think that admitting our discouragement, pain, or distress may be disloyal to our Savior, as if we are being ungrateful for the tremendous price He has paid to free us from the punishment for our sins and to give us eternal life (John 3:16; Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2; 4:10).
The truth is that all Christians hurt from time to time, and yet we have Jesus to help us always, in all circumstances and dangers (Isaiah 43:2). He is the Friend Who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24) and Who never leaves us nor forsakes us (Deuteronomy 31:8; Hebrews 13:5). He alone can heal us physically and emotionally (Jeremiah 17:14), give us hope (Psalm 62:5), restore the joy of our salvation (Psalm 51:12) and empower us to live holy lives (2 Peter 1:3-4).
Every born-again believer should also have a trusted brother or sister in Christ as a mentor and/or confidante (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Proverbs 15:22; 20:5; 27:17), as well as the loving support of a church family (Hebrews 10:25) so that we can bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).
Although a Bible-preaching, Christ-centered church and Christian friends are invaluable, they may not be available to all believers, and even these suffer from imperfections resulting from our sin nature. Too often we hear of church leaders who lose their testimony and their ability to counsel others effectively when their own sins or burdens interfere with their ministry. Even Paul, chosen by Christ to deliver the Gospel to the Gentiles, to plant churches, and to write 14 books of the Bible, was concerned that he could lose his usefulness to God and have his ministry put on the shelf (1 Corinthians 9:27).
Our former (late) Pastor used to say that man will always let you down, but that God will never let you down! (Proverbs 29:25-26) Praise God for His faithfulness! When we suffer, there may be times, circumstances, and people best served by our silence (Ecclesiastes 3:1,7), as complaining or admission of sinful thoughts or acts could actually be a stumbling block and discourage others from their Christian walk, ministry and obedience (Romans 14:13; 15:1; 1 Corinthians 8:9).
But praise God, He is available 24/7, not only willing but actively seeking us to tell Him our troubles, confess our sins (1 John 1:9), and lay our burdens at the foot of His cross. We can boldly approach His throne in prayer knowing that He not only hears us (Psalm 17:6-7), but that He has compassion on us because He has experienced every human grief, yet without sinning Hebrews 4:15-16). When believers pray to Him in despair, He listens, encourages us, and answers us (Psalm 10:17; 102:17). If we trust in Him with all our heart, He will direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Not only does He love us infinitely and permanently (Romans 8:37-39), but He has the infinite power and wisdom to do what is best for us. Think about what that means – His perfect love means that He desires to do what is best for each of us (Luke 11:9-13), and His complete knowledge and power (Psalm 147:5) means that He can accomplish exactly that.
So why are we sometimes disappointed with what we perceive as Him ignoring our prayers, refusing our well-intentioned requests, and allowing trials in our life? His ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9), and He sees the total picture while we clutch desperately to one tiny piece of the puzzle. God does not tempt us with evil (James 1:13), yet He may allow us to suffer for one of several reasons, as we shall discuss next week.
Praise God that He turns our despair and confusion into joy and peace, if not always in this world, then completely and eternally in Heaven!
© 2014 Laurie Collett
I've been through a lot of big storms the past 30 years and I can tell you of God's goodness and faithfulness. Jesus never fails.
I believe that our trials not only strengthen us to realize that when we listen to God and act on the word spoken to us we are able to look back and see the purpose in those trials, but they also enable us to encourage one another to be still and know that He is God within them, and not to fear them.
I hope I'm not jumping the gun or stealing your thunder by commenting on what you are planning to write next week, but I do believe that there is an important reason why everyone, believers and unbelievers alike, go through times of trial in their lives, and the outcome is so similar between the two groups that it could be view as almost identical.
If Hebrews 12 has to do with God disciplining his sons in order for them to partake in his holiness, it follows suit that unbelievers are allowed to be put through life's trials in order to call upon God and be saved.
My pastor once preached that Satan is God's devil, he can only do what God allows him to do, as he is at the end of a leash held by God's hand, very much like a dogwalker taking his pooch out for a stroll.
An encouraging post. God bless.
Amen, Nonnie! I often worry, then I see God prove Himself faithful yet again, then I am ashamed that I ever doubted. Praise God for His love, grace and mercy!
Have a blessed week in Him,
So true, Brenda! More on that next week -- but clearly, trials do bring us closer to and more dependent on Him, while allowing us experience and compassion to counsel and comfort others going through similar trials.
Many blessings to you,
I agree, God uses trials not only to bring believers closer to Himself and to mold them into Christ's image, but to get the attention of the unsaved. So many times we see trial after trial enter the life of an unsaved person, and yet they continue to be resistant to His mercy, love and grace.
I agree with your pastor that Satan can do nothing that God does not allow. Whatever Satan intends for evil, God uses for good -- the most profound example being Jesus nailed to the cross.
Thanks for your comment & God bless,
I am so glad God sees the whole picture and knows what is best for us. Thank you for this post so rich in the Word. Stopping by from Tell Mea a True Story. Blessings! cathyzpeek.com
Thanks so much, Cathy, for your lovely comment and encouragement! Praise God that He is still on the throne and may He reign supreme in our hearts. Blessings to you,
The promise of "I will never leave you..." is one of the most beautifully tattered, well-worn hopes I think we can cling to and tuck away. For it's true, at some point, we all have known the pain of being let down by people we love and trust - but God? Never. Even when it takes awhile for this to come into focus sometimes, challenged by circumstances and feelings and things we cannot see or comprehend. Thank you for linking up with Unforced Rhythms.
We do need personal study, and then group study but it is wonderful when we can have another person to share and pray with. I always enjoy your entries - - Thank you for sharing your inspiring teaching with us here at “Tell Me a Story."
Amen, Amber! Praise God for His faithfulness and for seeing and creating the solutions when we see only challenges and problems. Thanks for your comment and God bless,
So true, Hazel -- it is a blessing to have accountability and prayer partners, and especially a loving church family. Thanks for your kind words and for hosting.
May you have a blessed week in Him.
Aren't you glad God warned us, "in the world you shall have tribulation..." and "Yea, all that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution"? It must be terribly hard to stay faithful when you are taught that god doesn't want you to have these struggles.
Amen, Donald! Those who "follow Christ" because some televangelist told them all their troubles will be over are sure to be sorely disappointed. He is all we need, yet some focus on the gifts more than on the Giver.
A life with Christ doesn't exempt us from troubles and sorrows but it does gives one who walks along with us through it. What a comfort to have Christ at our side.
So true, Wanda. I would be so lost without Him. Praise God for His faithfulness.
May you have a blessed week in Him,
Thank you for your encouragement! I always say...those who are in Christ never suffer in vain. "God has a purpose for your pain, a reason for your struggles and a reward for your faithfulness. Don't give up!" ~Unknown
Thanks for your encouraging post... I am reminded how God the Father is our "perfect parent"... ALWAYS available, forgiving, encouraging, nurturing, and loving us unconditionally. Blessings to you!
I love that quote! Thanks so much for sharing it here!
Many blessings to you and your ministry,
You're very welcome, Laura, & thanks for your lovely comment! Praise God for His unconditional love offered so freely to whosoever trusts in His Son!
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