I often wonder, especially when I’m a little “down,” why God lets certain painful things happen to me and to so many of His people. I have moved from “why me” to a simple, often whispered, “why?” Perhaps you have or are experiencing the same feeling.
Joyce and I will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary this coming August. We appreciate the prayers of many people for us along the way. And we admit to attempting to hold back a smirk for all those who snidely remarked, “Ha, it won’t last 6 months.” Along with the smirk I have to admit that, on occasion, I too have wondered how much longer this will last.
I was not always the polished erudite Christian gentleman you know me to be. When Joyce and I were married we both were Christians, but I was coming out of a life Hollywood wouldn’t believe and was making a living as a long distance truck driver. One Friday night I came home from a two week trip and was more than a little grouchy. In the course of the evening, Joyce packed a little bag and went home to her mother. In short order her mother, God rest her soul, sent her back. Joyce has been like glue ever since. I recall a time in the early years when I emphatically told her I was leaving, and when I got to the car she was right beside me saying in a rather loud voice, “OK buster, I’m going with you.”
That’s about it for us. Other than these two events our lives have been rather boring. If it wasn’t for Jesus and our love for Him and each other we would never have made it.
All of this to say life has its days, and sometimes long periods when we do wonder, how long, oh Lord how long? As a preacher of sorts, and then a pastor for most of the years, we have had our share of broken hearts. Times of fear when doctors told us on two occasions two of our children would not live through the night, and in God’s mercy He spared them and they, with the other two kids are alive and well while serving Jesus.
Along the way we’ve had people we won to Christ and Baptized, performed wedding ceremonies for, who have joined with disgruntled saints and met in prayer that we would leave or some worse thing would happen to us. Yet the Lord blessed in spite of some things prayed for actually happening.
I am sharing this with you to let you know that every sermon I ever heard that was promising a life of bliss on this earth if only you trust Jesus is simply not true. Job said it well, “Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” Job 5:7.
It seems to me from over 50 years of serious Bible study that God reveals Himself in some lives with prosperity and others via pain and suffering in some form. Whichever is His choice and ours is to as Charles Weigle wrote, sing of Him and smile through tears, be they of joy or pain.
Isaiah puts forth a promise for special occasions of trouble, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” Isaiah 43:2
This is a powerful idea to cling to in trouble.
I don’t know what you may be walking through today. I don’t why you’re walking that path, God does. And you can take comfort in this truth. An old Gospel song has it, “Some through the waters, some through the flood, some through great trails, but ALL through the blood. Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song in the night season and all the day long.”
When the book of our life is opened and we sit and as Ira Stanphill wrote, “Ask the reasons and He tells us why” we will recall the wonder, the fear, the pain, the criticism from others and thank Him for carrying us through those very rough waters that threatened to overwhelm us.
In the meantime, regardless of the current time of trouble we can take comfort from God’s Word, God’s people and perhaps a little saying from the now departed North Carolina preacher, Vance Havner, who wrote, “God marks across some of our days, ‘Will explain later.’”
We will be amazed.
Copyright © 2014 Larry Lilly
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