Going through hardships, turning to God
Suffering. When we are suffering, we immediately jump to its cause. We desperately want to know why. You wake up in the morning. You put your feet on the floor and a sharp pain shoots through your left foot. You wince. Then you wonder why? Oh yeah, that’s right, yesterday you dropped a can of apple sauce on your foot and later on you stepped off the curb and twisted your left ankle. It was two in one day. You take solace in knowing the cause and then you just accept the reality that your foot will be sore for a few days. Your body will heal and you’ll be OK.
We want to know the reason for our suffering. Then, we want to learn how to avoid it the next time. But when it comes to matters that are life change and matters of the heart or even of our body like a life threating illness, we want to know “why” for those things too. Moreover, we all know, that is far more difficult.
We go to the doctor for answers. Sometimes we simply get those painful words, “I’m sorry, but you have a condition called …” Where do we turn next? Presumably, and hopefully, we turn to God.
Turning to God is where our knowledge of God and our faith in God is on test and trial. We only have two choices — turn toward him or away. One leads to strength, hope and life. The other leads to greater pain, misery and death.
William Carey was a missionary from England. He had a large family. He and his family left the shoe making business and brought the gospel to India in the late 1700s. He translated the Bible into many languages in order to give Bibles to as many language and people groups in India as possible. One day a fire wiped out the entire building of his life’s work. The fire destroyed 1,400 reams of paper — gone. About 4,400 pounds of English type and many fonts of English-cast Hebrew, Greek, Persian, Arabic and Tamil — gone. One hundred and four fonts of Nagari, Telugu, Bengali, Burmese, Marathi, Punjabi, Oriya, Tamil, Chinese and Kashmiri — gone. The presses, printing materials, supplies, books and the whole building — gone.
The following Sunday, Carey preached a sermon on “Be still and know that I am God.” His message had two simple points, “God is right to dispose of us as he pleases and man’s duty to acquiesce in his will.”
What Carey did not know at the time of the fire is that the Lord had grander designs for the scope and reach of his ministry. As a result of the fire, Carey’s home nation heard the news about him. The country didn’t know Carey or anything about his missionary work until news of the fire reached England. The people of England rallied and replaced all that he had lost and added more to his printing capacity with more presses than he had previously. Carey did not lose. He gained. The Lord multiplied Carey’s work and impact. The Lord educated a nation — teaching them about his kingdom work!
Don’t interpret the reason for your pain as needless suffering. God will always be with you and give you a voice to share his Good News. In your pain, “Be still and know that I am God”, said he.
By Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Scott Koeman