I have heard the whispers now and then over the years. I've heard the sentences left unfinished as people speculate about why so and so seems to be facing so much trouble. Now if they truly trusted in God, such things would not be happening to them. I mean, having the occasional trouble crop up is one thing but when it seems like things just keep on happening to them individually and/or to their family, well... we giving a knowing look as sadly shake our heads. God must be punishing them for something.
While there were times in the Bible when judgment did come in the form of physical suffering, we seem to fail to remember that God's people have always had to endure some sort of suffering as well. Anyone who has done whatever they could to conceive a child will tell you that Abraham and Sarah suffered.
Do we really think it was easy for him to leave his family and head off for parts unknown? Ask someone who has had to leave their family and has not seen them for years how easy and painless it is.
What about when disaster fell upon Lot. Did you ever wonder why Lot did not go back to Abraham? I think Lot was too ashamed to do so although I am certain that Abraham would have welcomed him back with open arms. When Lot had been left fatherless, Abraham had taken him in and treated him like his own son. Their relationship had been very close. How this breach must have grieved Abraham! Anyone who has suffered a breach within their own family will tell you how painful it is.
We have Joseph who was sold into slavery and later put in prison for doing the right thing. Then there is David who though anointed by God was on the run because his father-in-law wanted to kill him. David hadn't done anything wrong. He was simply being obedient to God and for that, King Saul sought to kill him.
Elijah spent a good part of his time on the run as well. He delivers a message from God and instead of being applauded, he is hunted like a criminal and must flee for his life. He faced the threat of starvation right along with his people except for one thing. Even though Elijah was in the midst of the famine, God provided and that provision came day by day by day.
There are many more examples I could cite but the point I am trying to make is this. Following Christ does not make us exempt from suffering pain and even persecution. Sometimes that persecution comes through the hands of others but sometimes it comes to us like it did to Job. We suffer material loss, the loss of position, the loss of health, the loss of family of family and friends. We may even face an unsupportive spouse or even the loss of our marriage. We may suffer one of these things or like Job, we may face all of these things.
When we see a Christian battling troubles perhaps rather than assuming the worst, we would do well to remember these words:
“Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”- John 9:2-3 (NLT)
“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.
and if you are enduring "the fire" at this moment, it would do well for you to remember these words as well and allow the power of God to be seen in your life... no matter what!
Why are we so quick to condemn others misfortunes for it is they that will have the last laugh at judgement day if one is able to feel such thoughts. But i am sure you can catch my drift as God is doing a refining work in their lives.
Great blog and a timely reminder to pray for our fellow members of the body.