There is a time for everything To Publications / Articles
September 5th '10
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven ... a time to mourn and and time to dance ...." (Eccl. 3:1, 4)
“Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death? ... No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” (Rom. 8: 35, 37) A time to mourn ...
I remember the time, it was 7:00 a.m. on April 12, 2007. I received a call from our family physician who told me that my son had been diagnosed with lymphoma cancer. I remember the time, it was the morning of May 16, 1998, I was rock climbing with my friend and mentor, and he slipped from a boulder and fell to his death. I remember the time, it was within a 2-week period in the fall of 1994, I was fired from my job and, because of some immoral failure on my part, was asked by my wife to leave our home. I also remember the chronic back pain and related surgeries that I endured much of the past decade. There are more seasons of mourning that I could describe, but I think you get the point. What about you ... are you currently in a season of mourning? Lost job? Tough relationship? Sick? Hurt? Discouraged?
During such horrific seasons, I often felt abandoned by God and could not help but wonder, "If God is good, why is he allowing me to suffer like this? Does he not care?" These and other questions haunt us. As our wounds are being inflicted, seemingly no one – including God – comes to our rescue. We will have days, or even seasons, when the pain from our wounds is so intense that we will turn our anger on God and wrestle with his goodness. Jacob had to wrestle with God, and so will we.
The Story of Job
In the case of Job, God in His sovereignty allowed Satan to inflict pain on Job. After God permitted Satan to destroy Job’s family and property, God said to Satan, “[Job] has maintained his integrity, even though you persuaded me to harm him without cause.” (Job 2:3) God did not place the blame for Job’s “unfair” suffering onto Satan. If fact, God admitted that He harmed Job, because He could have forbidden Satan from harming Job. Wow! What do we do with the fact that God takes responsibility for Job's pain – all the hardships?
But Consider this Question ....
Do you think that today Job would trade his story, his glory, and his legacy with anyone else? No way - he lived the life for which he was created! Job’s faithfulness, his struggles, and his legacy echoes throughout eternity! And the Bible teaches that God blessed Job immensely – gave him twice as much as before – even while still on earth.
All of the great heroes of the Bible suffered greatly, yet God does not ask us to suffer just for the sake of watching us suffer – “For he does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow.” (Lam. 3:31) God does not ask for our sacrifice unless He plans to reward it with something better: "Now if we are God's children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." (Rom. 8:17) What an amazing promise! It is important to remember in such difficult seasons that God has our best interests at heart.
Satan's Arrows of Discouragement....
A great lie of the Enemy is to convince us that the suffering and pain that we might experience today will be ongoing – forever. But the Bible teaches that such heartache comes in seasons. Just because today feels desperate, that does not mean tomorrow will be filled with suffering. Life's circumstances can change in an instant. We need to learn to win the battles of "This Day!" So if today life feels too difficult to bear – cry out to God for mercy and HOLD ON! “Mercy!” “Mercy” “Mercy” “Mercy”... is all we need to pray. Or, better yet, you may want to pray the “Jesus Prayer,” a prayer that has been used for centuries by the spiritual fathers: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of David, have mercy on me a sinner.”
There is hope! For even in the midst of our suffering and lament, we are promised that “we will find grace to help us when we need it.” (Heb. 4:16) God is not going to ask us to endure more pain than he will give us the grace to endure. He will give us the grace for the day! He does come – The Rescuer will come! “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.” (1 Pet. 5:10)
Our stories and our wounds shall be redeemed if we are willing to surrender to God. And our scars will not be in vain: “What we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will give us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are…. And even we Christians, although we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, also groan to be released from pain and suffering. We, too, wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as his children.” (Rom. 8:18-23)
There will come a day when “there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.” (Rev. 21:4) But until that day, in spite of our wounds and our scars, we do not want to miss out on the glorious story and purpose for which God has created us! And in the midst of our suffering, we pray that we will still bow down, worship God, and cry out, “Abba Father, Thy will be done - NO MATTER THE COST!”
To God be the glory ....
Vance F. Brown