The past couple of weeks have been a little tough. A good friend of mine lost her dad, and she really was broken. The dad had been sick for a while, and she had been trusting God for healing but he ended up succumbing to the illness. He was young and loved his family dearly. Then a few weeks later, another friend of mine lost her sister. She had post op complications, and left behind three beautiful children and a very broken husband and family. Again, people had been praying for healing and trusting God for healing to come through but it was not so.
This is reality. This is life and in the midst of all this pain and hurt always lies the question but surely why God? Where were you when I needed you the most? We are often found at a loss for words not even knowing how we can begin to console those who have been bereaved. The knife of death cuts really deep and life is forever changed in a way unimaginable after the loss of a dearly beloved one.
But bless both my friends because in this time of such deep trouble, in this time of such hurt, anger, confusion and feelings of betrayal, I have seen both of them drawing strength from God. Drawing strength from the word because it is only this that can nourish and sustain you at such a time as this. Now I by no means will attempt to answer the question “why God?” because I too am always stumped and left wondering but shuwa Nkulukhulu why? What instead I wish to do, is to perhaps show why it is in times of trouble we are meant to, and we actually run to the cross.
There are two theologies concerning trouble that I have generally met. In Zimbabwe especially, I have heard a lot of teaching that says if you have trouble then basically you either are not fasting enough,or are not covering your family enough in prayer, or you are sinning and are being punished for it, for a true believer should not face trouble. This leads to guilt, condemnation and a self righteous effort to seek God. All this eventually leads to disappointment when even though you are prayed up and fasted up, trouble still comes your way and you begin to question everything you thought you knew about God. You begin to question his goodness for surely, after keeping all he asked you to keep how could he abandon you like this in your greatest hour of need? This teaching is faulty and has loopholes that will cause many to stumble when actual trouble comes. The second theology I have heard is that of how this world is a terrible place of suffering and you just have to endure it and grit your teeth through it, and wait only for heaven because that is the only place you shall have a good time, peace and joy. This too is a faulty, unbiblical teaching because there are many pleasant things to be enjoyed on this earth whilst alive, and there are many pleasant memories that can be made and enjoyed.
When Jesus Christ walked this earth he said this to his disciples in John 16:33 I have told you these things, so that in me you will have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. Jesus Christ himself promised us trouble in this life on earth. He said this as a guarentee that listen, in this world, on this earth, trouble is coming. He did not mean self inflicted trouble like you cheating on your spouse and being found out and then suffering the consequences thereof, no! He was talking about the sort of trouble that you are minding your own business, doing everything by the book, living right etc, and then boom! Trouble hits you in the face. You are told you have cancer! You lose your child in a car accident. You lose all your investment due to factors beyond you. Serious big time trouble! This is the sort of trouble Jesus assures us of, and he is saying to us my dearly beloved take heart! Take heart!! For if you immerse yourself in me; if I am the very reason for your existence, if you make me your centre piece, it does not matter what form of trouble may come your way, you will have peace! The word “have” means take ownership of, belong to, possess and this is exactly it that you will possess peace regardless of the trouble flung your way. This peace is found in knowing that Jesus has overcome the world, and this world is temporary and will soon perish.
The book of Peter talks of how we must count it joy when we suffer. Whoa! Joy when I suffer? Argh! But this is just it! When we realise that Jesus himself promised us suffering as a portion in this world, it will make our burden that much lighter to bear. It will still be painful, oh it will hurt deeply so when we lose a loved one, but we will have hope! We will have hope! For we will know that the dearly departed ones who died in the Lord we shall meet them again. Therefore this separation hurts, but it is temporary. We will hold onto Jesus even when it hurts the most, because we will truly know that peace can only be found in him. Let me just abruptly finish with this word of exhortation from James 1:2. Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.