When we study God’s Word, we are warned that “evil” days will come (Ecclesiastes 12:1; Matthew 6:34; Ephesians 5:16). Job observed, “Man, who is born of woman, Is short-lived and full of turmoil” (Job 14:1; cf. Psalm 73:14, 21). At times, there will be events, situations, diagnoses, tragedies, and conditions in our lives that will make no sense. That is why the Psalmist wondered aloud, “Why do You stand afar off, O LORD? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble” (Psalm 10:1)?
There are mysteries in the New Testament that are not explained:
- James, the brother of John was martyred for Christ, but Peter was delivered from prison and spared from the same ruler (Acts 12:1ff). Why? Surely the Jerusalem Christians puzzled over this matter.
- Four companions in the gospel—Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke—arrived in the city of Philippi to do spread the Word of God. Two of them—Paul and Silas—are whipped and thrown into prison. But, the other two apparently were untouched. Why?
- Epaphroditus, Paul’s helper in Rome, became desperately ill but recovered (Philippians 2:25‐27). Paul, however, was afflicted with a grievous “thorn in the flesh” that was chronic (2 Corinthians 12:7‐9). Why?
It is times such as these, when life makes no sense, that our faith will be tested. And, in such storms, there are foundation stones that cannot be moved.
We can trust God in the dark.
Corrie Ten Boom, popular author and Holocaust survivor, wrote, “When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.” So it is in life. We can trust God farther than we can “see.” Solomon wrote, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
When we hurt, we really have only two choices: (1) We can hurt with God, or (2) we can hurt without Him. We need God more in suffering than ever before because losing faith will not remove our pain. Instead it adds a second problem, and of the two, Wayne Jackson notes, “infidelity is of far greater consequence.” Job trusted despite his extreme suffering. When all his children died, his possessions were lost, and his means of livelihood removed, he said simply, “…The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21). When he soon also lost his health and suffered months of agony, he remained unfazed: “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him” (Job 13:15).
When a time of suffering come, is the time to turn to God’s Word, knowing the evidences in it build faith in God’s integrity (Psalm 19; Romans 10:17). It is of utmost importance that we establish confidence in the Word of God and not be moved from it. Unless we are convinced that the Bible is true, and we can trust its message, there is nowhere to go for any meaningful resolution; we will fall into the devil’s trap of doubt.
Faith Must Be Tested to Be Genuine.
Do you remember those public service announcements than began, “This is a test”? When going through trials, we can say to ourselves, “This is a test.” Times of crisis prove our friendship with God and declare the authenticity of our faith. Do we love God because He provides gifts? Do we love those gifts more than we love the Giver? This was the accusation Satan made against Job (Job 1:8-12; cf. 1 Peter 1:6-9). All the things we cling to in this world will eventually disappear. The One who gives them is all that will ultimately remain.
Simple answers sometimes are enough.
R. C. Sproul insightfully offers in his book, Not a Chance, that when a child asks a complicated question, or one that he is not yet ready to understand, a parent’s simple reply is, “Because.” “Because” implies there is an answer but does not give all of it. As God’s children, sometimes it must suffice to accept “because” when we ask “why?” In Job’s trial, as well as in ours, part of the test is the idea of not knowing the reason for the suffering. Jesus neither gave long explanations of evil nor ignored it (Luke 4:18-19).
Vance Havner remarked, “God marks across some of our days, ‘Will explain later.’” He continued, “One day of green pastures and still waters is followed by dark valleys and miry swamps, and a thousand ‘whys’ lie unanswered, tabled for future reference.” Warren Wiersbe wrote, “God’s people live by promises, not by explanations.” What promises do we have when life does not make sense?
We have the assurance of God’s presence.
While God never promised life would be problem-free, He did promise to be with His people (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5; Psalm 46:5-7). Notice these examples:
- God was with David in the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23).
- He was with the three Hebrew men in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3)
- He was with Daniel in the lion’s den (Daniel 6).
- God sent an angel to the garden to strengthen Jesus (Luke 22:43).
Therefore, we can conclude, God is not a disinterested spectator in our lives. He is neither distant nor disengaged. Even when we feel life makes no sense, He cares (1 Peter 5:7). Even when we are afraid, through faith we can sing, “What a fellowship, what a joy divine, safe and secure from all alarms.”
We have the assurance of God’s peace
(John 14:27; 16:33; 20:19-21; Ephesians 2:12-14; 1 Peter 5:14).
We have the assurance of God’s providence (Romans 8:28).
Rather than asking “Where is God?” or “Why me?” let us ask, “What can I learn from this?” and “Who can I help because of this?” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Life’s problems are not easy, but they qualify us to serve in ways we never could otherwise.