What Will You Choose to Believe?
Psalm 100:5 (NIV)
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever….
Most of us have read this scripture throughout our lives as Christians, but have you ever asked yourself if you really believe it? Until someone settles this question once and for all, they will not be able to move forward in a healthy relationship with God. Everything can be flowing along wonderfully in life, and then it happens: an accident, a disaster, an injustice, and we are thrown into an emotional whirlwind that can wreck our walk with God.
We all instinctively do what we can to protect ourselves from the things in life that are unpleasant, yet there are times when nothing can. We can’t study or train to be immune from everything. We can’t run or hide. It is not a matter of if we will have to deal with something terrible in life, but when. Then comes the bigger question: how?
In situations in life where we can’t understand why the worst has happened, we all look to God. Some choose to trust Him, while others choose to judge Him. Even those who claim they do not believe in God can’t help themselves. Ironically, they are often the first to blame Him. In one breath, they deny He exists, and in the next, they are spewing curses at Him.
The majority of wrong that takes place in life can be traceable to cause and effect. We miscalculate and hit our thumb with a hammer. We forget to tie down a ladder on our truck, and it slides off into traffic. We mismanage our finances and end up in bankruptcy. We break the law and go to prison. The list is endless to the many ways we can cause trouble and ruin to our lives and to the lives of those around us. But what about the things that are out of our control? What about the surprises in life that we can’t plan for or prevent?
The world usually identifies these situations as bad luck. We hear Christians say it’s the work of Satan or perhaps God is testing us, teaching us a lesson. I am not denying the reality of the works of an evil power because Jesus himself informs us, “The thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy.” And while God never tempts, the Bible does give several instances of testing. There are also references to God’s discipline. In fact, it states clearly that He disciplines those He loves. However, neither of these realities meet the requirement of explaining the why of certain tragedies. If that were the case, then when we pass the test, the tragedy would cease; once the discipline was given, the crisis would be over, and that is not what happens. The catastrophe remains. We could speculate our entire lives regarding the things in life that don’t make sense or seem unjust and can’t be tied to human error and still be left with dissatisfying conclusions.
Sometimes there are no clear answers to be had. Over the course of my life, I have learned to accept that. In such cases, I endeavor to implement two key ideas. First, I remind myself of the verse above. God is good, and His love endures forever. If we prepare for tragedy by choosing to believe this promise before the crises show up, our faith is less likely to be shattered. If we have not settled this in advance, we can become angry and bitter. We move from trusting God to judging God.
The second key is to look at life from an eternal perspective.
Colossians 1:1-3 (NLT)
Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. 3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.
There is an inescapable pattern to life. At some point, everybody has to face disappointment, pain, and suffering, and eventually everybody will die. There is the possibility that those who are alive now could remain so until Christ returns, but in the meantime, suffering and death are part of the program, and we go to great lengths and often great expense to avoid it. I do the same, and I see nothing wrong with this. What can make things worse is when we have to deal with pain and suffering and then feel like we deserve answers that will somehow make it all okay. But as long as we are consumed with earth, this temporary dwelling, the reality is that God’s answers to the problem of suffering will never satisfy us.
Pain, suffering, and death are simply the result of sin on earth. This is why Jesus came to provide an escape from its eternal consequences. He also came to give us the grace to endure while we suffer its difficult but temporary effects. When we trust God, and keep our sights on our eternal relationship with Him, He will work in us supernaturally to provide the strength we need. He will give us peace and comfort and often an inner joy that cannot be explained… yes, even in the midst of suffering.
The only other option is to take our eyes off of God’s eternal promises and judge Him for allowing evil. But this decision does not bring peace, comfort, or inner joy. It only deepens misery.
Choosing to trust God and live in an attitude of thankfulness, despite what goes wrong in this life, will help us keep our eyes on the realities of Heaven and deepen our love and appreciation for what’s most important. Jesus claimed that He came that we might have a more than abundant life. I believe the more than abundant life has primarily to do with our relationship with Him, and the only way that life can become a reality is if we give Him our complete trust.