How many times have you heard someone say, “I can’t believe that happened to them, they are such good people?” Maybe right now, you are personally going through something difficult and wondering, “Why me?” And “where is God?”
It is human nature to wonder why bad things happen, especially if you are viewing it from the lens of being a Christian, aka one of “God’s people.” Many actually believe that identifying as a Christian is reason enough to get a free pass from things going awry in this life. Afterall, they postulate, God wouldn’t allow His children to be hurt or have to suffer. That mindset couldn’t be more off—biblically speaking.
If you take the time to examine the deeper Biblical issues of why God allows affliction, you will uncover some hard but realistic concepts that must be understood and digested in order to live a submitted and fulfilling Christian life.
These promises are held within the pages of God’s Word, which is the precise truth that we can stand under when faced with such affliction or crisis in life. Did you ever wonder why Job, who was called righteous by God (Job 1:8), had to suffer and lose everything that he held dear? Why was Joseph unjustly placed in prison? Why were the apostles beaten, imprisoned and eventually all killed through torturous vile means except John? These men of old all had opportunities through pain and suffering to come to know their God better. They actually rejoiced in their suffering (Romans 5:3-5). They didn’t need it to be fixed or to go away. The end goal was to know Christ and His sufferings to the fullest (Philippians 3:10).
The harsh reality for us in our modern-day world is that, outside tragic outliers, we have never had to suffer much, let alone suffer for our faith. We have been able to slide by with complacent, cushy lives. Sadly, and truthfully, it often takes crisis to introduce us to who Christ is. You see, we often drift away from the Way and God in His graciousness does what He has to do to bring us back to what’s true. So as believers in a good God, we can consider the affliction good because the intention is to draw us closer to God. “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes” (Psalm 119:71).
You see, whether it is affliction that comes personally, maritally, relationally, or crisis that comes to our community, country or world, God is always looking to bring us to Christ-conformity (Romans 8:28-29). Both individually and corporately. Affliction is often the tool God uses to chisel His Church into His image on earth. Again, these biblical truths may be hard to swallow, but according to the paradox of the Gospel, joy is often produced through the vein of sorrow.
These past two years have been shrouded by an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty. It has also been a litmus test as to where we stand in our faith; how we view our God; and how to manage stress. It is the perfect opportunity for the gospel to flourish because we know that “perfect love (or understanding of God) casts out all fear” (I John 4:18).
So, the next time you feel the heat being raised in your life, thank God for the trial and ask Him to help you thrive in a way that brings you closer to Him and allows the heat to warm someone who is standing next to you.