Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.
I recently heard a story about a pretty horrible thing that happened to a young Christian. Suffice to say that at the end of it all, the response of the child and the family was to ask “Why would God let this happen? We are having a hard time believing He’s even there.” When very bad things come your way, it’s natural to ask these questions… but I think and fear we do so because we have been let down by our religious establishment. We’ve been sold a bill of goods, and not the truth.
Often I’ve been witness to funerals where somebody has comforted somebody by telling them that the bad thing that happened that led to the loss of the loved one was “part of God’s plan”? Really? I disagree. I think God planned for everything to be perfect and good and right, and WE blew it. And bad stuff happens because we blew it. The whole stinking world is fallen… All of us. Everything. Does God make that bad stuff into good stuff? Yes. Romans 8:28 tells us that. But he doesn’t sit there dreaming up bad stuff to happen for some kind of sick cosmic “God” plan. Sorry, I don’t buy that.
So… Jesus promises that you will have trouble in this life, in this world. Big trouble. Bad trouble. Life and death trouble. Lose those you love trouble. Sickness and disease trouble. Kids making horrible choices and wrecking their lives in front of you trouble. House burning down trouble. Plant closing down trouble. Abuse trouble. Neglect trouble. Alcoholic and drug-addicted trouble.
If you’re surrendering and doing what we talked about in Romans 12: 1-11 (the story so far), it should be easier to keep praying through that stuff, and to understand that God is with you in the hurt (which is also the place you’re most likely to grow) and you can, in the middle of loss and pain and trouble, rejoice in the hope of Christ, the hope that he can redeem the bad stuff… now…
So, I say to you all. Stop. Stop saying that those who live close to Jesus will not have trouble. Stop believing it. Stop saying it. Stop teaching it. Stop saying that God has willed that bad things happen to you. Willed it from on high like some kind of divine sadist… He didn’t, and he isn’t. Stop… Now… It’s not true. Most of the Apostles were martyred. Christ himself suffered a horrible death on the cross. People who love Jesus have been tortured and killed around the world for the last two millennia, and it happens today.
You will have trouble.
Rejoice! He had trouble. He is with us. He doesn’t leave us. He doesn’t make our lives perfect and good and trouble-free. He makes our troubles into something glorious. Something that, frankly, can’t happen and can’t be as glorious as if you had no trouble.