Uncertainty is one of the biggest challenges to faith that a Christian will face during his or her lifetime. The history of the world shows us that stability and instability ebb and flow across vast regions of the globe often leaving citizens wondering what the future will bring.
We live in uncertain times and the great unknown about the future can be a source of worry. At times we might feel as though we are all alone and vulnerable to every bad thing the world has to offer.
About three years ago I suddenly fell very sick, the kind of sick where you are convinced that you might die any minute. I don’t say that lightly, I have been sick with the flu and various viruses in times past where I ran high fever and stayed in bed for days or as in one case was even hospitalized for three days. But, I have never been sick to the point where I was sure I would die at any moment and I had no idea whether or not God would deliver me. Maybe you have been in a similar situation where you wondered if God would deliver you.
If we have studied the Bible and understand the nature of the true God then we know and we understand God can deliver us from whatever trial awaits us whether it is a personal health trial or instability in the homeland in which we live. God promises He will deliver the faithful into His kingdom, but the unknown of when and how He will deliver us can be very taxing to our faith.
King David was called a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), and yet even king David went through a time where he felt completely cut off from God. We as God’s people should understand that this is a natural part of the process of God working in our lives.
“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, And from the words of My groaning?
“O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; And in the night season, and am not silent” (Psalm 22:1-2).
We will see in a moment that Christ was to go through the same feeling and repeat these words at His crucifixion.
There are three points we might consider in light of uncertainty in our lives.
1) God at some point will not deliver us from physical death. All the original Apostles, all the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the great prophets are dead and buried to this day. The unknown is part of the plan. Not knowing exactly how things will work out is all part of God’s plan. If God provided all the answers then we would not need to develop faith in God.
2) God works with each of us to develop complete trust in Him. This level of trust requires us to allow God to make decisions that we might wish were otherwise and we don’t always get the answers ahead of time.
3) God does not ever truly forsake us. God works with us to develop complete trust in Him and at times He backs away from us in order to test our resolve and commitment to stay the course. He above all else wants us to understand that He is in control even when it appears to us physically that He has abandoned our cause.
We hear king David’s words echoed again when Christ was crucified. Matthew records the moment Christ Himself felt forsaken and alone:
“Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’” (Matthew 27:45-46).
Perhaps God the Father had to turn away in order not to intervene or perhaps it was necessary that Jesus Christ experience true exclusion from God the Father. I don’t have the answer, but I do know that as far as the overall plan of God was concerned that God the Father did not abandon His Son. We know that because after Christ was in the tomb for three days and three nights when the final hour was up, God the Father resurrected Our Savior to His former glory (Luke 24:5-7; Acts 2:23-24, 32).
We all go through periods where we feel abandoned by God. This is a normal part of God working in our lives. There are people in various congregations of the Church of God who have been traumatized by heart rending events in their lives.
We often ask, “Why?” don’t we? Why God, did I lose my husband, my father, my mother, my sister, my son? Why am I going through this trial with employment, with the law, with the school? Why will you not deliver me from this pain, this disease, this infirmity?
It’s natural to ask why and yet we may not get a direct answer or relief within our time frame. Asking why to God is analogous to child asking an adult why God allows bad things to happen to people in the world. The child’s mind is likely not to understand that the suffering will one day find a complete remedy under God’s plan for mankind as revealed in Revelation 22:1-5.
Recorded for us within the pages of the New Testament is a story of one of God’s servants getting an answer to prayer for healing that he was not expecting. The individual is Paul and you can imagine the faith that Paul had by seeing the evidence in the way in which he faced trials. You can also imagine that he had seen many miracles and healings and that he understood that God was able to heal all from any ailment. It was in this context that Paul pleaded with God for healing.
Paul asked why. He pleaded to be healed and he got an answer, but it wasn’t the answer he was praying for. “Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.” (2 Corinthians 12:8).
The answer to why he was not healed is in 2 Corinthians 12:7 and 9:
“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure
“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.‘ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:7, 9).
Paul was a most remarkable individual in that he suffered more than most of God’s people at the time and yet he was able always to keep his suffering in perspective within the big picture of God’s plan.
You might ask why God doesn’t talk to us like he did with Paul and the answer is because He doesn’t need to. We have a complete Bible that gives us all we need to know. We don’t always find the answers we are looking for but rest assured we get all the answers we need if we search the Bible and pray for the answer.
In some cases the answer we get may not be what we want to hear. What God is looking for is the development of patience and acceptance. God may be testing whether or not we will accept his decision. God speaks to us from the pages of the Bible through the stories recorded for our benefit.
But know this, God is in charge and He will deliver us all from our problems, our diseases and our emotional anguish within His time frame. Paul’s attitude in the face of trials is something we can learn from. “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.‘ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
The answers to our questions concerning our relationship with God and how He deals with us often may be found within the pages of our Bibles. The struggles and problems that the people of God faced throughout the Bible are recorded for our benefit. God doesn’t directly communicate with us audibly in this age because we have a book that contains the answers we need to know for now concerning such matters.
The challenge for us as Christians is to recognize that God has our best interest in mind and that we will always get exactly what we need when we need it. The trust factor (faith) is what God is trying to develop within us. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
We marvel at the faith of the Apostle Paul and yet one day in the future when you meet him he might marvel at the faith you developed in difficult times without ever seeing Christ face to face. Faith that you developed by reading the book in a time of great unknown.
Unless otherwise noted Scripture taken from the New King James VersionTM
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Copyright by Ken Johnson 2016
Messenger Church of God
PO Box 619
Wentzville, MO 63385