Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hope In The Day of Evil

In His Word, God never tells us that the life of Christians is going to be a cinch. He never intimates that life will be one big roller coaster ride with us eating cotton candy and watching clowns that make us giggle our way through our earthly existence. Our walk through our path of life will have days of enjoyment and days when it feels like all the air has been sucked out of our lungs. Life is not a bed of roses and God never promises that in His Word.

There are times when passenger cars on the roller coaster fly off the tracks, the cotton candy makes us sick, and the clowns that made us laugh with glee now are striking terror in our hearts. And, we begin to wonder through what seems now to be days upon days of dark clouds and storms, whether there ever was a bed of roses that we used to admire for its beauty.

We come to ask, “Where is God in all of this suffering and pain?” Worse yet, we ask, “Surely this should not be happening to me; I am a Christian!”

Don't think that dear Christian much less say it!

Perhaps it seemed easily exciting when you were first brought to faith in Christ by the Sovereign working of God. Persecution was nonexistent; hardships seemed remote; exciting truths from the Bible were learned and you increased in knowledge; Christian fellowship was sweet and never ending. Then, the storm clouds rolled in, imperceptibly at first, until darkness seemed to cover everything in your life.

The most heroic of God's children have had to endure the most painful of trials and tribulations:

"...Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us." (Hebrews 11:35-40)

In Hebrews chapter 11, we are given the not only the definition of what faith is for the Christian but are also shown examples of how our brothers and sisters of the early church endured harrowing trials and temptations and did so by faith. Their horrid circumstances are in this chapter as a lesson to us that no Christian escapes trials. Tribulations are given, writes James, to give us opportunities to show a watching world (and other believers) that no matter in what package life arrives at the doorstep of our lives, we can have joy. Plus, endurance or patience is built into our character. But, warns James, we must let patience or endurance have its “perfect” work in us so that we will become perfect and complete and lacking in nothing. (See James 1:3-8)

No matter how unpleasant the thought, the Biblical fact is that in order to become full-grown children of God (and I am speaking to the issue of sanctification) in our experience or condition upon this earth, we have to have our faith tested through trials and tribulations.

We need to, no, it is essential that our faith be strengthened through trouble, problems, tragedies, unclimbable mountains, unsolvable puzzles, that will force us to deny our sinful dependence upon our flesh and trust in the Triune God. This is how it is and there is no avoiding it. Our God gives grace to the humble (Proverbs 3:4; James 4:6).

God is our hope, strength, and sustenance in the day of evil (See Jeremiah 17:17).