I was on my way home from work one evening when my girlfriend called me on my cell. I happily answered and just from the sound of her “hello”, I knew she was not well. I immediately discerned great distress in her voice. Without her telling me the source, I instinctively knew she needed an ear, she needed a shoulder, she needed counsel, she needed a friend, she needed me at that moment.
We ended up speaking for hours, she shared her challenges, her hurts, her pains, her anxieties, and her frustration. “Why is this happening to me?” she asked. “I have been faithful to God…. just when I thought I was on to my breakthrough; all this is happening in my life!”. I listened as she spoke and allowed her the room to express her emotions. I then encouraged her in the Lord and reminded her of who she is in Him. Though her issues remained, the words of encouragement and the reminder, gave her a lift and much needed hope in her time of distress.
During our conversation an issue that was raised was the fact of the struggling and suffering of Christians. Yes, whether it be emotionally, financially, physically and even spiritually, many of our brothers and sisters are going through serious challenges. The issue arrested my mind for the rest of the evening and a few days that followed. It truly is hard to comprehend- why do good people go through bad things?
It is easy for one who is struggling or suffering to feel that somehow, they did something wrong to deserve whatever it is that they are going through and that the struggle is merely a form of retribution. Alas, we know that this is not so. Indeed, the book of Job has served to debunk that untruth from the enemy.
John Chapter 1 verse 12 states that “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (NIV). Our God is the ultimate Father and is unlike any earthly Father. Because He is our Father, He automatically cares for us and loves us. We need not do anything to deserve His love, it is given to us freely and unconditionally. The fact therefore that we may go through challenges is not indicative of any lack of love from God to us.
His plans are to prosper us
Also, the fact that one is going through a difficult time does not mean that that will always be his or her state in life. I am reminded of the word of God in Jeremiah Chapter 29 verse 11 which states that “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (NIV). Against this background therefore, it can be said that even when we go through struggles, there is a plan of the Lord not to harm us but to prosper us. Likewise, it can be said that our struggles are not to harm us but to make us better, to make us stronger and to prosper us ultimately. This is further fortified by Romans Chapter 8 verse 28, which reminds us that “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” (NIV). In light of this, we should endeavour to expect good from our hardships. It surely is hard to see the silver lining behind the dark clouds when it is raining but if one should focus on the word of God through these hardships it will help to offer hope and peace during difficult times.
Method to the madness
We often do not know in advance the plans of the Lord, what may seem bizarre and incomprehensible in the moment may redound to the benefit of he who went through the struggle. Yes, we know the “struggle is real” but Proverbs Chapter 3 verses 5 to 6 charges us to “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight”(NIV).
Further, the word of the Lord in James Chapter 1 verses 2 to 4, reminds us that we should “Count it all joy……. when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (ESV). Trials and hardships therefore serve a purpose in the life of the believer. They serve to reinforce and fortify faith and to make one stronger for the journey in Christ.
The Lord is Sovereign, and He is the Creator of the Universe, He knows the beginning from the end and end from the beginning. Life is not easy, but we know the Lord will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy Chapter 31 verse 6) and that His plans are not to harm us but to prosper us. So, if ever you come upon hardships and struggles, think on these things.
Tamara Dickens is a member of the Transformed Life Church in Jamaica where she serves in the Prayer and Production Ministries, and as a Life Group Leader. Tamara is passionate about teaching and sharing the word of God. It is Tamara's hope that all will come into the revelation and knowledge of God and His unwavering love for us.