If God sent His Son to put an ultimate end to suffering, why in the world-in this world- is there so much suffering?
“O death, where is your victory? O death where is your sting?”- 1 Corinthians 15:55
For those of us who have lost someone we love- the answer to this rhetorical question is easy. It seems as if Paul is saying that there is no pain involved in dying or brokenness or sin; and to that we all would disagree.
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”- Matthew 6:9-10
On earth as it is in heaven?
If Jesus came to claim victory over sin and death and pain and hurting- if God is really good and has our best interests at heart- then what is going on now? Why couldn’t it all have ended right then and there?
“Since we have the same spirit of faith (as those before us)…we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”-2 Corinthians 4:13,16-18, emphasis mine
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”- Hebrews 11:1
Faith gives us the determination that, in Christ, death and all that it entails did end at the cross.
Faith fights to believe that, yes, sin and pain and brokenness was already defeated.
Faith says that even if I do not see His victory in my current situation, I can trust and know that it is there.
Faith fixes its entire being not on the middle, but on the end.
Faith hopes in what’s to come instead of dwelling in what appears today.
Right after we announced our adoption, it felt like the bottom dropped out in our home. I won’t go into too much detail, but from several different angles, we were feeling attacked. It felt like, in more ways than one, we were simply unlucky. I believe that the Enemy is real. I know that he hates marriage and family and adoption and all things God. I am aware that he is the father of lies. Yet, knowing these things doesn’t take away the sting of the temporal reality of hardship.
We are still on this earth and God has made it clear that this world is not our home. As He taught the people to pray, He did not say, “Pray that this earth looks like your heavenly destination”. He said, “Pray my will looks on earth as it does in heaven”. The ultimate plan for this planet is decay and rot. There are glimpses of eternity here, but they are merely passing shadows. That being said, throwing ourselves in the arms of our Father, in full assurance of faith that one day, these wrongs will be made right, is the only thing we have to do when the temporal feels and looks and seems magnified.
It’s the only way.
The Enemy wants nothing more than to make you believe that God is not for you.
He desires for you to look at your current circumstances and question how in the world God could be up to good in it.
It’s the Garden of Eden mentality-
“Did God actually say?”- Genesis 3:1
Is God actually in this cancer diagnosis?
Does God see the pain of my divorce?
Did God care when that horrible wrong happened to me as a child?
Can God really care about my daughters when seizures and feeding problems and pain persist?
Only you know what you currently are wrestling with; but if you have breath in your lungs I can promise you that the Enemy of your soul is working hard at trying to talk you into believing absolute lies.
He comes to steal and kill and destroy. (John 10:10)
For a couple of months, Hugh and I have been in quite the battle to believe the Spirit is working when the circumstances around us felt like anything but. Between the girls’ hospitalization when Hugh was out of the country, looming seizures, a surgery confirmation for Ally (that happens tomorrow), illness, a life-changing hurt from someone we trusted, and some looming negative emotions that would not let up no matter how much we prayed for it to be so, we have been worn thin.
This week, He has absolutely shown Himself and His provision in ways that we could not have imagined.
After feeling like the dark cloud was never going to lift; like the bottom was going to continue to fall out, He has poured out more grace in more ways that I could list one after another. And- in hindsight- He in His perfect wisdom made that black cloud the very thing that has helped us to see His presence in the aftermath- not one moment wasted. He has reminded me yet again that no child of God is left to luck or chance- He is sovereign over all things and using all things for His glory and our ultimate good.
He has placed opportunities in front of us that we are undeserving of, and in spite of our roller coaster game of trusting and shortly after doubting that He was actually working, He has remained faithful. Why?
Because that’s just who He is.
If we are faithless, He remains faithful- for He cannot deny Himself.- 2 Timothy 2:13
It’s not that everything is suddenly perfect; it’s just that the veil has been lifted a touch more and we are seeing tangible signs that obedience is worth it- that He is with us and He is more than worth it.
Friends, it may seem as if the Enemy has taken the script of your life and absolutely rewritten its plot, but rest assured that if you are in Christ, all the moments of your life are secured and defined and planned out with the precious blood of the One who loved you enough to take your broken story and make something more beautiful than you could ever design.
He is working.
Read that again, friend.
He is working- in your story and in mine- and in all reality, they are both His.
Today, may you be encouraged that this hard, magnified, consuming thing is most certainly light and fleeting.
He does have the victory.
This thing- whatever this thing is- is not going to break you- unless He uses it to break you in order to make you something all the more beautiful and whole.
And, if you are in the trenches of the hardest battle of your life, whether external or internal, rest assured in knowing that there is no one safer to fling yourself today than your Savior’s arms who walked the road of Calvary to relieve you from anything and everything that causes suffering or brokenness or pain or sin or death.
Not now, but then.
Not today, but for all eternity.
All glory and honor and power and praise to Him for now and forevermore.
“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken…”- Hebrews 12:28a