For some reason, not a biblical reason, North American Christians tend to believe that if we do all the right things – give money to the church, get involved in Christian service, read our Bibles and pray faithfully – then, nothing negative will enter our divinely protected domes.
The belief that all negativity comes from Satan is fiction.
In a very difficult time in my life, I drove myself to distraction with self-examining questions like – Is Satan trying to destroy my faith? Have I sinned? Did I do something that angered God? The answer to all these questions is “Yes.” Satan is trying to destroy my faith. I have sinned. And sin angers God.
I eventually got around to the most important question – has this trial come to me from God? And the answer to that was also “Yes.”
He sees the weakness, the frailty of our faith, its instability. He knows, if we are to survive as Christians, if we are to know Him well, we must develop tough faith. We grow strong in the trenches not on the dance floor.
Tough faith loves God when it can’t make a list of how He blessed me today. Tough faith believes in spite of unanswered prayer. Tough faith trusts when the evidence is stacked against it.
God brings trials of all descriptions – financial, health, employment, stress, family problems and an assortment of other difficulties, including a sense that He has disowned us and seems far away. (I once wrote a piece, When God Forgets Your Name. That’s how I felt at the time.) Sometimes hardships pile one on the other. Shakespeare observed that when sorrows come, they come not in singles, but in battalions.
A friend in great distress once said, “I’ve concluded that if it took this disaster for me to know the Lord in a deeper way, then I have no regrets. In a way, I don’t even care if the situation improves.” Treasures hide in darkness. Some marvellous insights about who God is can only be learned in the low places.
I have no desire for dark times. They’re not on my prayer list. And I often feel white-knuckled when distresses come. But, one thing I’ve learned – if a trial comes from God, it is meant to strengthen me and it will have an end.
Are troubles banging on your front door? Don’t be afraid. It could be God toughening your faith. The author of Hebrews addresses the issue of God’s discipline:
“My son, do not make light of the discipline of the Lord,
And do not lose heart and give up when you are corrected by Him; For the Lord disciplines and corrects those whom He loves,
And He punishes every son whom He receives and welcomes [to His heart].” You must submit to [correction for the purpose of] discipline; God is dealing with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” Hebrews 12:5-7
Soldiers prepare for battle through rigorous training. Athletes learn to ignore the voice of defeat and not to give in to the body’s aches and pains. In the same way, we must not give up when trials come. God is simply forcing us off the bench and into the battle.
Take with me your share of hardship [passing through the difficulties which you are called to endure], like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 2:3
Rose McCormick Brandon is the author of four books, including One Good Word Makes all the Difference and Promises of Home – Stories of Canada’s British Home Children. To purchase books, visit her website at: writingfromtheheart.webs.com and read her blogs Promises of Home and Listening to my Hair Grow.