Sometimes we experience a tragic event, loss of a loved one, or some form of physical suffering and we become angry and bitter. Frustration at God and those around us pours from our life like water from a faucet and the only way to close the valve is through the grace of God. I ran into a gentleman today who has experienced great loss. He had a family member die tragically and her fourteen year old son was there to witness it. Unfortunately it shook his faith to the point of bitterness towards God and anger at the church. He lost his family member, his faith, and his hope in a matter of seconds and his life will be forever changed because of it.
Has this happened in your life? Have you ever been so frustrated at God because of a tragic situation that you became angry? I know I certainly have and I believe it is a common reality we share as Christians from time to time.
2Co 4:15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. 2Co 4:16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 2Co 4:17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 2Co 4:18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. Paul says something in this part of 2Cor that took me several years to really grasp. During a difficult situation about 10 years ago He led me to these verses and I really looked them over and studied them. I had to believe that what I was going through was important to God and that His hand was working through this time in my life. A couple key words for me were "do not lose heart" and "light momentary affliction."
Paul had gone through some tremendous difficulties in his ministry and his life and for him to be able to call what he went through momentary light affliction and to not lose heart really got my attention. I wasn't sure what it was that Paul had, but I certainly wanted it. The more I studied these verses the more I began to realize what they were saying to me...
Here is my paraphrase, "Keith, what you are going through is hard, really hard. But you are going through it for a purpose and that purpose is so that my grace will be revealed to you and others. Through that grace will come overwhelming thanksgiving in your life because you aren't comparing your difficulty to the things of this world but to the things of God. Those things are unseen right now. One day they will be glorious and this trouble now will be so small in comparison to what is to come. Don't give up, don't lose your faith, and keep your eye on those eternal things."
I know that suffering is hard. I know that some who read this today are going through intense difficulties and my heart and prayers go out to you. I also know that Paul is right. I have and continue to experience God's grace daily in my struggles. I pray for you today to embrace the Lord during your difficulties, love Him with all your heart, and trust that He is working out far more than what we can see in front of us. As for the gentleman that I was talking with today. He is still bitter at God after 10 years. I encouraged him not to give up on his faith. It is between him and God now...
Lord, please help us when we suffer. Lead us through our difficulties and help us to not become angry at you and blame you for them. You are a loving kind God and we know that you care for your children. In your name, Amen