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Friday, January 10, 2014

When There Seems No End to the Darkness

I have a young lady in my church who has cancer. It began as ovarian cancer and metastasized to her lungs. She has difficulty breathing and, thus, just coming to church is a chore. The chemotherapy has destroyed her ability to fight off infections and she is extremely tired all the time. She continues to go to work as much as possible but I am not sure how much work she can really do. Maybe she is kept on the payroll because of her employer's compassion.

Many people may point to the sins in her past and explain her struggle as some sort of karma. They may say, "She is getting what she deserves." Really? If we all got what we deserved, we would all burn in hell. None of us are sinless. No, I can't see this as the reason she hurts so much.

So, what do I tell her or anyone else who walks with the Lord and struggles with great difficulties? What do I say to the person who has been without a job for the past two years and is about to be evicted from the home he and his family have owned for the last eight? What do I say to the wife whose husband has left her for younger, more beautiful woman? She is struggling to raise the kids. He has neglected to pay child support and threatens her each time she has brought this up. She feels a victim yet comes to church and believes that he God will rescue her. What do I say?

Well, I don't know all that God is doing but I am sure that He is aware of what is going on in the world. I don't know what He is doing with each of us at the moment but I know that He has created us for eternity. I don't know why anyone goes through a darkness that never seems to end but I know that there is an end to the darkness. I know He is good and completely powerful. I know He will make something beautiful out of what is happening.

No, this isn't what I want to tell them. I would rather tell them that the check is in the mail. Deliverance is nearby. Justice will be served by Thursday. But I don't know any of that.  The young lady may die from her cancer. The man and his family may be evicted from their home.  The wife may never recover financially from her former husband's infidelity.

All of these things will certainly look like tragedies in which God did nothing if we didn't last into eternity. Tragedies are only such because we can't see what God has done for us beyond this life. We can't see why He has allowed many of these things to happen because we don't know how He is preparing us for eternity. We don't realize that our testimonies through these struggles may have been strong enough to cause others to come to know Him. We don't know who is watching nor do we really know the impact that we have had until we get to eternity.

I spoke with a discouraged pastor recently who told me of the struggles he was having in his church. He works endlessly to see people come to know Christ. Many of those he has reached have no money to contribute to his church. The current members are complaining. Their own negativity makes the church reach less people because neither Christians nor non-Christians want to be where bickering exists.

This pastor said to me in despair, "I preached to a much larger congregation when I was younger." I told him that this sounded like a message of faithfulness. Its easy to be faithful when everything is going well but when it consistently goes poorly even when you work harder and harder, its easier to forget it all and go drive a truck. I am sure that something beautiful is coming. You just don't know it will be on this side of eternity.

Faithfulness hangs on because it believes that God makes all things beautiful in its time.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (ESV)
11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.


sirnorm1 said...

True, stay faithful it is worth it.
I have been helping some friends with some similar situations.
"What Do I Do?"
Posted Dec.15 2013


Anthony Chia said...

Yes, often, it seems the case – no end to trouble or affliction of life, or as your article puts it, darkness.

Actually, we use the word, “seems”, when it is more likely that we will have trouble, affliction of life or darkness confronting us. The Lord did NOT promise an earthly life of no trouble; it is men, without the whole counsel of the Word, projected such a scenario, perhaps, in their over-eagerness to convert non-believers or to build a big congregation or following (a case of speaking what people like to hear).

The overall counsel of the Word does NOT promise the followings:
1. Free from sickness
2. Free from mortality (physical death)
3. Free from trouble
4. Free from trial
5. Free from testing (even persecution)
6. Free from temptation
7. Free from challenges
8. Free from activity of principality of darkness
9. Free from falling into sins

So, why do we still want to be a believer for, some may protest! We become a believer because:
1. God wants us to
2. God is our creator
3. God loves us
4. God wants us to be reconciled back to Him
5. God wants us to, eventually, to go Heaven to live with Him
6. God wants to empower us, while we live (our mortal life), to live with peace and joy
7. God’s ways are the best, for He is Wisdom, and so, He is in control
8. God is Omnipotent God, none more powerful than Him
9. God’s standard, of holiness, of righteousness and justice, is transparent and unchanging. We need only be loving Him back, and so, be abiding.

The keys to “successful Christian living” are these:
1. Love God. Love with all of you.
2. In your love, you obey Him and His commands.
3. Get to know Him, even though He cannot be fully known by us, presently (in our present state).
4. Grow your faith in the Lord. Without faith, it is impossible. Faith foundation is of utmost important (get your core tenets, right).
5. Don’t let anything rob you of your hope of salvation.
6. Live in love. You are already being loved (by God); remain in that love, and loves God with all your love, and love fellow men with His love.
7. Know that God is in control, and let Him be God (What He will do or will NOT do, is the BEST; believe it).
8. Be transformed of how we view mortal death, with us (and we have to) always loving Him and abiding in Him.
9. Be led by the Holy Spirit, for He knows the mind of God. You cannot go wrong, then; and you will be in agreement with God. Agreement with God, just as the Holy Spirit is always is, we can be having the peace and joy in and of the Indwelling Spirit.

The many promises in Scripture, from God, are most assuredly, assured for those who love Him. The most encompassing key is still to love God. When you truly love Him, you have nothing whatsoever to fear, NOT even mortal death. When you are truly loving Him, He is with you, NOT only just a presence kind of way, but also, with you in what you are doing, for when you are truly loving Him, you will be doing that which pleases Him, and He cannot be “NOT with you” on it.


Anthony Chia said...

Cont. from above

Here are 2 “most assuredly, assured” promises:

Ps 91:14-16 - “BECAUSE HE LOVES ME,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I WILL BE WITH HIM IN TROUBLE, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

Rom 8:28 – “And we know that in all things God works for the good of THOSE WHO LOVE HIM, who have been called according to his purpose.

Also to note, when one is in trouble or affliction of life, it is NOT necessarily that he is NOT living right. Here are 3 texts to support this claim:

2 Tim 3:12 – In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
John 16:33 (In Jesus’ words) – “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. IN THIS WORLD YOU WILL HAVE TROUBLE. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Eph 6:12 - For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Then, also, do NOT forget we are living in a still fallen world which is passing away. The consequences of the corporate sin of the world are still unfolding, even as the salvation plan for Man has kicked into action.

Remember, also that when things are difficult or we are suffering, it does NOT mean we do NOT do or abandon, for where would perseverance come, if there is no difficulty, trouble, trials or testing or suffering or even persecution in life. Without perseverance, where would character be produced, and where would hope be unwavering. Scripture in Romans 5:3-4 said this: “3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

So, be discerning (don’t jump to the wrong conclusion, causing a suffering brother to be discouraged, instead of being encouraged by you). We are our brother’s keeper, both in the sense of bringing him back from the error of his ways, as well as to love him, and so, to be the grace of God to the person. We can often do something for the hurting one. We can be there; we can be listening; we can be helping physically, monetarily and in various other ways (like, run an errand, etc.); and we can be praying and interceding.

Commonly, we say, “In His time, He will make all things beautiful”, but Ecc 3:11 tells that God has already said it, right from the beginning, that He will do it; it being so, it is as good as God has made everything beautiful in its time. God does NOT lie, and nothing can stop what God wants to do. [But there is one thing God ask of His Creation – to fall in (to take one's proper or assigned place in line). I am sorry, if a man refuses to fall in, things may NOT be beautiful for him!]

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

Craig Godfrey said...

Hang on, I thought Pastors were supposed to know everything? Now I'm in real trouble... ;)

Job wanted answers, but the only responses he got from God were like 'who do you think you are?'

We will never know all the answers because we don't know how the mind of God works, bringing everything together as part of His perfect plan.