Throughout scripture we read of individuals discovering new dimensions of God’s faithfulness and character in the midst of their trials. That doesn’t mean they never questioned “Why?”
Asking “Why?” is a normal human response to troubles, but God is not put off by that question. It may be a starting point for a dialogue with God that opens doors to a renewed understanding of His plan for your life. There is something about the hour of necessity that sharpens our wits and focuses our attention like no other. The moments in which we need God the most are the moments when our eyes and ears will be most attuned to Him. What do we learn about God during times of adversity or pain? We either learn or are reminded that:
- God gives permission. To understand this dimension of God – we discover and acknowledge that He is in control of all things and nothing happens outside of His will. Therefore, if trouble enters our life, God knows about it. The clearest example of this is found in Job. Satan wanted to afflict Job but had to ask God for permission, which He granted, with limits (Job 1:12; 2:6). Those limits are what Paul is talking about in 1 Corinthians 10:13: God “will not allow you to be tempted [tested] beyond what you are able.” Once you understand that your troubles are not unknown to God, it throws a whole different light on the subject in terms of purpose: “God, what is the purpose of this trouble in my life?”
- God has plans. The apostle Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15-16) who, by grace, were being invited to share in the New Covenant blessings of Israel. So, how better for the “apostle of grace” to learn about grace than to be put in a painful position where he needed grace to endure? That was God’s plan for Paul: “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness’” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Through adversity Paul learned to “take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake” … and found “when I am weak, then I am strong” (verse 10).
- God has purposes. When God’s permission and plans result in pain in our life, we immediately want to know, “How long?” (And we are not alone; the psalmists asked that question fourteen times.) From Genesis 3 through Revelation 20, time is a factor on earth – but only for us. God is not governed by time – He sees our lives through His eternal purpose. When His purpose in our life is accomplished, the circumstances will change. Through this time of waiting on God, we learn to trust His purposes (Isaiah 55:8-11).
- God is powerful. The most important thing to remember in the midst of a trial is that we are loved by God. Nothing, Paul wrote, can “separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:39). There are powerful forces and events working to separate us from His love: tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword, death, life, spiritual beings and more (verses 35-38). But God is more powerful than any adversity that can come against us; through His powerful presence in our lives, we are overcomers!
Whatever trouble you are experiencing today, know that the God of the universe is with you. You are not alone, you are not forsaken and you are not forgotten. Problems reveal His presence like no other reality in our lives. Don’t be discouraged or dismayed. “Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord” (Psalm 31:24).
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Jeremiah is the founder and host of Turning Point for God and senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, Calif.)