Saturday, July 16, 2016

On Faith and Suffering


Suffering....it is not an easy thing to bear up under. I feel that as life goes on, I am seeing more and more suffering around me. I have recently been through a tough season in my life. In the midst of difficult circumstances, it has caused me to look to God and question at times. I think sometimes in the Christian life, we are told, “Don’t question. Just believe. God is good all the time.” This, of course, is true but I think there is true beauty in the wrestling. In the coming out on the other side having a deeper faith because of where God has taken you on the journey. I have recently been reading in Hebrews and like God does, He somehow lined up the Scriptures and where I was reading to answer some of my questions right in the face. Questions like...

“Why do people who love you have to suffer?”
“I understand suffering is for your glory, but we already love you and are about your glory so do we have to go through it?”
“Are you really big enough? Good? Faithful?”
“Is it about just praying harder?”
“Do you really see me where I am?’

Hebrews 11:1 says that “faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see”. I read a line from a devotional that I am reading currently that there is a difference in amazement in God or the things of God and actually walking in faith. In John 20, we see Doubting Thomas in a moment of struggle. A few of the disciples have reported that Jesus has risen from the dead but he just cannot grasp this and says “I won’t believe it until I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers in the them and place my hand in the wound in His side.” The disciples had understandably been through a rough couple of days. The man they viewed as their Savior and best friend just died on the cross which is not the way they pictured things to end. I imagine they had a wide range of emotions, thoughts, fears, etc. 

But, you see Jesus show up so tenderly here. 8 days later, Jesus appears to the rest of his disciples. Jesus tells Thomas, “Put your finger here and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side”. I think this moment is so beautiful and shows what a tender, kind, intimate God we serve. Jesus meets Thomas in the middle of his doubts. He does not overlook Thomas in his struggle of faith, instead, he loves him right in the middle of it. Jesus then says “Don’t be faithless any longer- BELIEVE!” (vs 27). 

I thought about this and wondered to myself, how am I like Thomas doubting Jesus and His power. In what areas do we say, I wont believe Him unless ______. We tend to put such conditions on God in the middle of hard circumstances. What God has been speaking to my heart is that He is never changing, He does not shift like shadows, He is the same yesterday, today and forever. There is no darkness in Him. So, like the old hymn says, this is the meditation of my heart when doubts arise: When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace.

God’s ways are so much higher than our ways. We cannot comprehend the picture He is creating in our lives. There is pain, but there is beauty. And when the doubts come in, that is where we are called to faith. Believing in what we cannot see. Which at times is no easy task. But be encouraged with Jesus’s words after Thomas believes, “You believe because you have seen me. BLESSED are those who believe without seeing me.” Believing God at His word is a choice. It is an act of our will and we have to choose to trust at times when doubt is screaming from within. But, He is faithful and holding all things together. Prayers and love for all of us that are still fighting the good fight of faith and clinging to Jesus all the way.

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