by Jon Walker
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When we confess our belief in Jesus as the Holy One of God, we often assume our lives will become easier. It doesn’t help that some pulpits and small groups teach that.
Certainly Jesus taught that his yoke is easy (Matthew 11:30) and the apostle Paul spoke about the “Sabbath rest” of God (Hebrews 4:9), but both these examples teach the need to develop a deep trust in God, not that following Jesus is easy. We’re to step into the will of God and stay there, trusting he has our best interests at heart. (Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:28)
With God’s Spirit working in us and through us – as we rest in God’s arms – we find we can do all things through him who strengthens us. (Philippians 4:13 HCSB).
Yet the deeper we head into God’s heart, the more difficult things are likely to become, as God builds within us a Jesus-like character. You may have heard it said, “We want to be saints without living the lives of saints.” We want to make a significant contribution to the kingdom of God, yet we want to sidestep the trials Paul experienced: “Pressured in every way but not crushed … perplexed but not in despair … persecuted but not abandoned … struck down but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9 HCSB)
A few years ago, my wife and I were facing the death of a child and grappling with how to help my mother, who’d been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. In the middle of all that, our refrigerator began to sink into the floor of our kitchen. We discovered a repairman had inadvertently creased the small pipe that pumped water to the ice maker, and this tiny, dripping leak softened the flooring, causing considerable damage.
My friend, Nancy Guthrie, said, “When you’re in the middle of a crisis, you’d like to think God would give you as pass on the every day problems.” At the time, Nancy’s daughter, Hope, had just been diagnosed with Zellweger’s syndrome – a disease for which there is no treatment or cure – and had only a few months to live.
Yet, within her heartache, I saw Nancy move deeper and deeper into the heart of God. She and her husband didn’t dwell on the question, “Why me?” Instead, they began to ask, “God, what do you want to do with this circumstance?”
The apostle Paul says, “We carry the death of Jesus in our bodies, so the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” (2 Corinthians 4:10 HCSB; emphasis mine) We carry Jesus’ death in our bodies, and then God resurrects the life of Jesus within us.
Hope lived 199 days, and tragically the Guthries had another child, Gabriel, who also had Zellweger syndrome and only lived 183 days. Despite their deep, deep God-faith, they once again faced significant suffering. (You can read more about Nancy’s story on her website, www.nancyguthrie.com.)
What does this mean?
· God, what do I do? – Instead of asking, “Why me?” when you are suffering, ask God to show you what to do with this tragedy. I’m not suggesting this is easy. God is not unaware of your struggle, and he can handle your anger as you talk to him. “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.”
· God is with you – God will never leave or forsake you. He’s not just beside you; he’s inside you, represented by the Holy Spirit.
· Rest in the certainty of God’s care – Trust God to work through any situation for your good. (Romans 8:28) And even though it may be difficult to see how God can do that – or to even see God at work – trust that he is moving you toward a hopeful future. (Jeremiah 29:11)
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