God is in control
By S.J. Black
Have you ever had "one of those days?" Yesterday was just that sort of day around the office where I work.
Yesterday basically started out bad and got worse as the day progressed.
First, my co-worker's daughter called to say that she was in the hospital and would not be coming to work for at least several days. It turns out that my co-worker had a mild heart-attack the prior evening. The latest report is that the doctors expect her to make a full recovery and she should be released from the hospital in the next several days.
Then to make matters more interesting, later in the morning another of my co-workers received a call from her husband. He said that he had been involved in an auto accident and totaled their car. This was the third accident he had been involved in this year. Turns out that their car was totaled but he was fine minus several bumps and bruises.
Just in case all of this news was not bad enough, one does not need to look any further than the headlines of any newspaper to guarantee they will be thoroughly depressed. It seems there is never any good news to report any more as this world becomes darker, some days seemingly by the minute.
It is times like these that I rejoice in the knowledge that God is on the Throne and in complete control of all that is happening in the world today. I am convinced that knowing this fact is the only thing that prevents me from requiring some serious amounts of psychotherapy. But it also brought up a question that is often asked; "Why does God allow bad things to happen and why do Christians have trials?"
First, all that is going on in the world today was predicted thousands of years ago by various prophets and Jesus himself. It is not my intent to spend a great deal of time in this article going into all the specific prophecy of the Bible that is coming to pass in our generation. However, just for the sake of example consider the following verses from 2 Timothy and see if they do not read like today's headlines of any major paper:
"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-- having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them." (2 Timothy 3:1-5, NIV)
It gives me great comfort to know that God is in control of all the events in the world today. The knowledge that what is going on in the world today will ultimately culminate in the Millennial Kingdom of Christ is truly a source of strength. This knowledge should give us a reason to take to heart what the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:4-7:
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Knowing that all of today's world events are just a part of God's plan certainly helps me have peace as the world slips into a dark abyss around me. The peace that I feel these days certainly is a peace that "transcends all understanding."
However, that does not answer the question of why God allows problems and trials in our individual lives.
To be honest, I don't think you can look to apply any one reason for all the trials that God allows in our lives.
One reason that bad things happen in our lives is due to Satan and his demons attacking us. However, I firmly believe that some Christians give Satan more credit than he deserves for things going wrong in their lives.
Often times, problems in our lives are the natural consequences we reap for our sins. For example, what should you expect if you go to church on Sunday and live like the world the rest of the week?
I would guess that if you have children odds are they will follow your example of how you live and not what you pay lip service too on Sundays. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard someone say something like, "I don't know why my little Johnny ended up cheating on his wife. We raised him in a "Christian" home." Often times it comes to light that the person making a statement such as the one above had an affair on the side himself. He probably thought his child did not catch on to that fact. Or if he was not having an actual affair, was there any sexually explicit material in his home?
The Bible warns us that while we are forgiven, God does not always remove the consequences of our sins, even when we repent of them. The Bible tells us in Galatians 6:7 "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap." How many times have we all seen this truth of Scripture played out in the lives of others and ourselves?
Sometimes God will allow us to be tested so that our faith will grow. There are times when we come across hardships in life that are not a result of our own sin and not necessarily a satanic attack.
God has often put me in a difficult situation to see if I would learn to rely on Him or if I would get down hearted and start complaining. I have found that if I do not learn to trust Him in a particular test that more than likely I will face the exact same trial again or one that is very similar. He seems to keep giving us some tests until we finally learn the lesson about reliance upon Him that He was trying to teach us in the first place. This is often one way that God strengthens our faith in Him.
The story of Israel during their exodus from Egypt and their time wondering in the wilderness, is a great Biblical example of this repeated testing. Israel continually failed to trust God even after repeated times of testing and deliverance by God. It took them forty years of wondering in the wilderness to finally learn the lesson. If they had learned earlier they could have avoided some major difficulties.
I have learned this concept of how God sometimes teaches us reliance upon Him the hard way on many occasions in my life.
However, some of the greatest periods of growth for my faith have been during difficult times. Having past victories with God can be a wonderful resource to pull from when subsequent difficulties come along.
Another instance where we can experience difficulty in our lives is when God is attempting to get us back in line with His will for our lives.
For example, what if God wants you to move on to a different city?
He very well may allow you to loose your job. While this may appear to be a bad thing at first, often these situations can work out in our being much happier with a new home and new calling after the dust settles.
I personally have known a couple of people that have become saved by God allowing difficulty into their lives.
There was a great testimony that I heard at church several years ago by a man who was a millionaire. It seems that God had been pursuing this particular man, but he was too busy running a successful business to be troubled with "that religious stuff."
After the man's business failed in a very unexpected way, he began searching and heard the message of the Gospel.
This fellow went through some very hard times and lean years before he finally surrendered to God. However, after coming to know Jesus, he has been restored and built an even more successful business through God guiding his life.
I am convinced that even if God had not restored him, he would have been happier after coming to a point of relationship with Jesus than with all the money in the world.
Finally, sometimes difficulties in our lives are just things that happen. We should not assume that every time our car breaks down that it is Satan attacking us or that we need to repent of some sin in our lives. Frankly, sometimes it just comes down to the fact that a car battery is only going to last so long.
If you are having difficulties, take heart! It may be that God is building your faith or doing some other work in your life.
Often times we do not see the work God is doing until we are looking back in hindsight.
If you are facing a trial in life remember that Jesus tells us in Scripture that He will never leave us or forsake us.
God loves you and He promises in Romans 8:28, "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."