March 5, 2014 - Serious Struggles

In Thirteen Months, I mentioned a time when I had received inconceivable, frightening news about my wife, Gwen.

Tensed Young Man - Isolated

It was such a shock, for a moment I told God I was not going to accept it, and turned my back on Him. It lasted less than a minute as I walked toward the elevator, but it was devastating.

I turned back toward the office where I had just met with her surgeon, as if I would see Jesus physically standing there. But as I stared down the hallway, I felt Him next to me. I had turned away from Him—He never turned from me.

When we face insurmountable odds, what should our natural response be? We are told to trust the Lord in everything, no matter what—even be thankful for the difficulties. But when the trial feels impossible to survive, how are we to manage?

I’m not proud of my initial response in the hospital that day, but it taught me something—I learned that Jesus meant it when He said, I will never leave you nor forsake you. I am thankful that He didn’t say, I will be with you until you turn away from me, then you’re on your own.

Rather than causing us to run and hide, adversity should turn us to Jesus. Perhaps turning our backs on God, even if it’s only briefly, is due to our unwillingness to be a part of His plan. After all, His plan may very well be painful. But there is no escaping pain, and His plan is perfect. God does nothing without great purpose.

In the blog, Bad News, I noted several ways we are to respond in the face of trials. But what I’m referring to here is how we live day-to-day. Are we determined to move closer to God, or take a step further away? When we have time to prepare our hearts, we should do just that.

As we deal with our troubles, are we growing, gaining experience and becoming stronger? Or are we simply treading water, trying to stay afloat? This is an important question, because growth is the key.

God never wanted us to be battered about, floundering in a sea of pain as the world takes its toll on us. Instead He wants and expects us to be victorious in the face of difficulties and trials—even death. We are not naturally designed to do that—God conditions us through experiences that challenge our faith to grow.

That’s the hard part—it’s painful. But there is great hope, because as we persevere, we come one step closer to Him.

Question: How have you learned to face adversity and pain?