Bad things happen to good people, right? This is something we all know and can identify with. Here’s the catch: we never expect to be the person the bad things happen to—we always see ourselves on the other side of the coin.
Recently, a 3-week sickness and 5-day hospital stay put me down for the count. Ultimately, I have no sad stories to tell. I am almost 100% better, and the Lord stayed faithful (as He promised He would), but sometimes it can be difficult to process the unexpected.
Dealing with Doubts
Though my sickness was small in comparison to what others have dealt with, it became clearer to me how people going through trials can lose faith. Even though we know there is “none righteous,” we still feel as though we are working hard for the Lord—what right does He have to put us down for the count, anyway?
The thing we must realize is that no matter how we feel, it is God that is still in control.
Yes—Romans 8:28 is still true—inside and outside of your trials.
So in preparation for your next set of trials, instead of doubting God and doubting in His will and His plan, instead ask Him a question—“Lord, what would you have me to learn as a result of this trial?”
I promise you, He will begin to show you things. Maybe not immediately, and maybe not for years down the road. One thing is for sure—it will all make sense one day. Until then, all we can do is trust! And, that is exactly what God wants us to do.
Sometimes, in our laboring and working for the Lord, it can be hard to slow down and live in the present. This is what happened to Martha in Luke chapter 10. She found herself “cumbered about much serving,” and almost missed the Lord Jesus.
As a result of my recent experience, God showed me five things about the Christian life that, even though I already knew, I had lost sight of. Perhaps they have escaped you too. Either way, I hope this will be an encouragement to you.
#1. I Have More Friends Than I Realized
It is interesting in life who we consider our “friends,” and who gets left out of the circle. There is one couple my wife and I are closer to than almost anyone else in the world. We don’t spend an excessive amount of time together or anything, but if we’re hanging out with anyone—it’s usually them.
For that reason alone, I often get trapped into thinking that they are my only “friends.” But this isn’t true. Perhaps you, like me, find yourself thinking of friendship in a very shallow way. In school, if someone close to us upset us, we just simply said, “you’re not my friend anymore!”
In this age of social media, we simply “unfriend” anyone that ticks us off. But isn’t it interesting that in our time of need, often people come out of the woodworks to help? If you had been asked to go down your list of friends, you may not have called their name. And yet, they were there when you needed them.
There is a young man in our church (close to my age) who proved this to me during my hospital stay. You know, on any given Sunday/Wednesday, we speak to each other, but never for long periods of time. I have never been to his house, I don’t know his parents’ names, and we’ve never once shot guns or gone fishing together. As far as I know, the only things we have in common are being brothers in Christ and being preachers.
But do you want to know who was the FIRST person besides my wife and mom to visit me in the hospital? HIM!
Not going to lie—I was shocked. Not because I didn’t think he was the kind of person who would come—he was simply unexpected.
Over the past few weeks, I have had people who I look up to tell me they were praying for me. I didn’t even know they knew I existed! I’ve also had people that I never knew existed tell me they were praying for me.
I’ve literally found out that thousands of people were praying for me. That is powerful.
Here’s the deal: I’m not special. I’ve never spoken to any large audience, my name isn’t on the cover of any books, and no one is particularly excited to see me on any given day.
But I found out, as a child of the King, that I have more friends than I thought. And this experience has taught me not to take them for granted any longer.
Maybe there is someone in your life you are taking for granted. Maybe you sulk around thinking you don’t have any friends when in reality, there is a world full of people just waiting to help you in your time of need.
#2. Prayer Still Works
I mentioned that I found out hundreds, if not thousands, were praying for me during my hospital stay.
I need to take a moment just to say that, prayer still works! I write this on a Sunday afternoon after having preached to our Jr. Church. Just weeks ago, I found myself almost unable to move in the hospital, and today, God allowed me to preach His Word—just like He called me to do.
You know, our trials and troubles do not derail the will of God for our lives. If God has called you to preach, teach, write, lead—or anything else—your trial does not exempt you from that calling.
Just keep on praying and keep on believing that God will do a work in you. He may not answer today or tomorrow, but He will answer.
I think of a young man named Nabeel Qureshi. He is an author, preacher, and well-known apologetics speaker. He is a convert from Islam to Christianity. He was also just diagnosed with stage four cancer, and so far, his treatments are not working.
It appears that God may take him home sooner rather than later. Want to know what he is doing? He is still speaking, teaching, and doing his best to make an impact for the Lord.
Sometimes he has to do it from home on his computer, but he has not let his trial derail him from his calling.
Will he and others around him continue to pray for healing? Sure! But He is also praying that God’s will be done. And God’s will may lead to earlier death than he would have liked, but it may also result in hundreds or thousands of souls for the Kingdom.
God’s will absolutely will be accomplished—prayer still works.
#3. Sometimes, Life Doesn’t Make Sense
We’ve kind of been talking about this all along—but it’s so true! Sometimes, even when we try to make sense of it all, life just does not make sense.
There’s nothing that can be done about this. The Bible says, “…there is none that understandeth….” (Romans 3:11). Romans 8:28 tells us that the only one who really understands what we are going through is God!
Something unique about the gospel story is that God came down to earth as a man (Jesus). He not only knows our thoughts, and His ways are not only higher than our ways, but He also can relate to us. He has felt the “feeling of our infirmities” (Hebrews 4:15).
When life doesn’t make sense to us, we can take comfort that Jesus has been there before.
In fact, there are many times in the Bible where it appears that, though Jesus is indeed God, there is special knowledge reserved for God the Father. One example would be that, though He is God, Jesus Himself knows not the day or the hour when He will return to catch away His bride.
The next time life fails to make sense for you, perk up your ears. Maybe God is wanting to speak in the “still small voice” like He did in Elijah’s day. Or, maybe God wants to remain silent on the matter. He is God, and that it is His prerogative.
Yours, however, is simply to trust.
Trust that no matter what, God has your best interests at heart, and He WILL work out all things together for good.
#4. Slowing Down is Difficult—and Necessary
This one hit me pretty hard, personally. I’ve got a lot going on, and even more I want to do! But I’m going to be honest—when I was in the hospital, I just couldn’t do anything!
It was hard even to read the Bible or to write. For the most part, I laid around and watched television. And while there is plenty I should have been doing, it was hard to gather up the energy.
So the first thing I learned about slowing down is that it is difficult. I got WAY behind on things. My writing fell behind, the marketing for small business fell behind, my work fell behind, and my life in general just bell behind! As much as I would love to say that I enjoyed the downtime, I honestly didn’t. It was almost painful not to be busy.
However, I also learned that every once in awhile, slowing down is indeed necessary. Hopefully next time I’ll be slowing down on a beach somewhere instead of a hospital room—but nevertheless, we all will slow down one way or another.
Though my sickness was not tied to overexertion, it did provide some perspective. And, in the future, I’ll be more be intentional about taking the time to slow down and rejuvenate.
#5. Jesus is Still “The Man”
Lastly, and most importantly, I was reminded of the sufficiency of Jesus Christ. 1 Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
Jesus Christ is still enough. He is all we need to make it through those painful times. If we didn’t have the friends we did and we were all alone, His friendship would be enough. He is the one who stands between a sinful man and a righteous God.
He alone is the purveyor of Righteousness.
He is all that we need to make it through uncertain days, and the hope of His salvation is enough to take us to heaven and have eternal life with God Almighty.
Don’t turn your back on Him—He loves you! And, if it is His will, He will make a way of escape in your trial.
If I had some sum my experience up in one line and give just one bit of advice it would be this: DON’T play the blame game with God in the middle of your hardship.
“In the world,” Jesus said, “ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer: I have overcome the world.”
Becoming a Christian does not exempt a person from the pain and trials of life. “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble,” Job observed. While we ought not to expect deliverance from every trial, we can certainly maintain our faith and trust in God throughout every trial. And, most importantly, we must maintain our thanks and praise (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Discussion Question: Has a particular trial or experience ever changed your perspective in a drastic way?
Questions? Feel free to comment below and start the discussion, or click the blue button on the right (desktop only) to ask a question with a voicemail. We will do our best to answer in an upcoming post. Thanks!