Jesus with a child painting

Can we trust Him, even when we suffer?

I was very surprised to see an article in the mainline news media this month stating, “Everything Seemingly is Spinning out of Control.” (ABC online news). Some of the events we are all becoming familiar with were highlighted. Here are a few I gathered from various news agencies this month:
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—Most severe drought in decades hits California–all there must ration their water.
—Midwestern levees are bursting in what many call a once in a 500 year flood—tens of thousands of uninsured homeowners lose everything.
—North Pole will face the first ever year without ice.
—Gas prices rise as oil hits level off for the first time in 5 years.
-Home values fall on average of 15% across nation at a speed not seen since the The Great Depression.
—Air Fares rise while service declines.
—Rising tuition costs are pricing millions out of college while many that do go will pay loans back for 20 years.
-Forget about the unemployment rate–94 million out of work, nearly a third of the US.
—Health care costs continue to rise, Medicare reimbursement rates decline.
—Wars continue to rage and costs now expected to top $2 trillion dollars.
—Pack mentality grows in large cities such as Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago as murder rates show sharp uptick.
—Dollar’s value continues to fall and shrinks American’s purchasing power at home and overseas.
—Record 8,000 lightening strikes in Northern California cause a record 842 fires in just 24 hours—while not a single drop of rain falls to quench drought stricken area.
—Shoplifting for food has steadily and alarmingly begun to rise in most retail chains as more Americans find themselves priced out of essential needs.
—Food banks shrink as food prices spike making aid to the poor more difficult.
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I think I could go on, but will stop there. All of these news items were published in the past 30 days.
As I read these articles, several things are very clear.
First, the people of America, and the body of Christ is going through a period of difficult testing. We cannot know what we face with any kind of certainty in our future. However, as we are tested by these circumstances, our hearts are sifted by the Holy Spirit and all that is useless and ungodly is revealed. It is then up to each of us to consider whether we will yield to what the Holy Spirit shows us, or to refuse to submit and change, and thereby harden our hearts.
When I served in the Middle East, the war was a kind of testing for both civilians and military alike. I saw civilian and military people alike who, in peace, seemed to have it all together. But when the bombs began to fall in Israel, I saw that some acted with courage and selflessness while others did not. It will be no different in this country. At present, we have no bombs falling here, but we are facing unsolvable problems of historic proportion. Will we continue to honor Christ in our hearts, and act as faithful servants or will we do something less than that? The faith in our hearts will soon be revealed through all of these testings. And it is a sure thing that more tests are to come. Now is the time to draw nearer to the Lord and put aside all that is useless and sinful.
The second thing that is clear is that the world around us is asking deep questions that Christians should be able to answer with love. One news article questioned, “Is the great apocalypse upon us?” Sadly, they interviewed very notable Divinity scholars who responded with disdain. Yet, whether or not this is the case, it is amazing that the secular news media are asking these questions. The Bible teaches us to be ready in season and out of season to share our testimony. This is our opportunity to share God’s love and salvation when people ask searching for answers.
Finally, many believers face the same suffering as their neighbors. Remember how the rain falls on both the just and unjust? Many wonder about the suffering of themselves and their loved ones and ask, “Where is God?” If you have ever wondered, I encourage you to go back and read through Christ’s experience from Palm Sunday until His crucifixion the following week. Even the Son of God was not kept from the hour of suffering. Jesus reminded us that servants are not greater than the master.
Did God love Jesus less when He was being tormented and then cruelly crucified? Did God forget about His son or was He perhaps unable or unwilling to deliver Jesus? I think Oswald Chambers makes a wise conclusion on sorrow when he notes:
“My attitude, as a saint, to sorrow and difficulty is not to ask that they may be prevented, but to ask that I may be preserved through every fire of sorrow. Our Lord received Himself in the fire of sorrow. He was saved not from the hour of sorrow, but out of the hour. Sorrow burns up a great amount of shallowness. You always know the man who has been through the fires of sorrow. You are certain you can go to him and he will have time for you. If you receive yourself in the fires of sorrow, God will make you a nourishment for other people.”
What a wonderful thing—to be a nourishment for others. As our world, in the US and abroad, becomes famished for all things, may God use us to nourish others with the water and bread of life. May the Lord guide and protect you as you journey in this difficult hour.