Monday, March 7, 2011

Where Lightning Falls

I call people when I hear that they have had some sort of tragedy. I’ve been making a lot of calls recently. I phoned one Christian woman after I saw her being interviewed on TV and she mentioned that her husband loved our ministry.

            When the couple advertised that they wanted to sell a ring that was worth about a thousand dollars, three people showed up at their door. Once they were inside, they tied up the couple and their two kids, and began to beat them up. When the husband broke free and tried to protect his family, they shot him and left. He died in Charlene’s arms. Sue lost her beloved husband Larry, after a battle with cancer. Tim lost his wife in December. Cancer left her ravaged after doctors removed her tongue, because the disease spread into her mouth. Tamara was almost dead due to mercury poisoning. Her husband lost his job because he spent so much time taking care of her, and they had no money left and nowhere to live.

            Each of these Christians had two things in common. They knew what is what is was to suffer, and each of them said the same thing--that God was wonderful. It didn’t make sense, but it came as no surprise. What each of them went through is to be expected in this life. Being a Christian doesn’t mean that we are immune to the storms that everyone experiences. Lightning falls on the just and the unjust. If a Christian falls over, he bruises, just like everyone else.

            The confusion from many modern pulpits. Preachers offer Christianity as a bed of roses. It is given as a solution to the problems of this life. But in reality the bed of roses has many pain-causing thorns. Still, the “Jesus will fix your problems” gospel is popular. It attracts “converts,” because everyone has problems.

            Think of what happened to the first Christians. Eleven of the original twelve disciples were murdered for their faith, and the foundation of Christianity was set in the blood of millions who, down through history, died for their faith. The rest died just like everyone else, either through disease, accident, murder or just after experiencing the ravages of old age. Where was God in their experience?

            There are two answers to that question. The first is that God “preserves” us in Christ. We will see every person who has died at the resurrection of the just and the unjust. God will preserve all who put their trust in Him. Charlene will see he beloved husband again. So will Sue see Larry. Tim told me that he can’t wait to see his wife. He said that she was sharing her faith right up until the end.

            The answer to second question comes back to the issue of trust. Each of the people I mentioned know experientially that God is faithful. They believed the promise that whatever He allows to come their way (no matter how horrible), will work out for their good, in the light of eternity (see Romans 8:28). That’s why they were able to rejoice, and speak about His wonderful presence in their lives.

            Fiery trials come to the Christian, not to burn him, but to purify him. So if you are a Christian, take real consolation that when your turn comes, you have this wonderful promise for the God who cannot lie: “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:12-13).