By Julie Gernand
We all sat there on the floor, perfectly still and sad, not knowing what to say or how to pray for our dear friend.
It has been quite a time of turbulence for my dear friend. Let’s call her Karen. For the past two years, she has been a loyal attender of the weekly Bible study small group my husband and I attend. Through this time, we have became familiar with Karen’s struggles.
After moving to the United States from another country to attend college, Karen began the years-and-years' long process to become a permanent U.S. resident. Government setbacks and legal jargon have created many stumbling blocks for Karen along the way, but God’s provision has been so clear for my friend. From surprising monetary gifts received just in the knick of time, to being able to pay legal bills, to paperwork being processed many months faster than expected --
All signs seemed to point to certain residency. What a sigh of relief for all the years of stress placed on Karen.
Yet, just months away from completing her residency, Karen received the news that due to a string of unforeseen circumstances, she must drop everything -- from her career to her relationships in the States -- and return to her home country. For a matter of years she must wait until she can re-apply to permanently reside in the U.S.A.
Going back. Starting from scratch. Completely blindsided and full of despair.
Why, Lord? We want to know why.
Why has this fate befallen Karen when all along, through prayer and petition, all signs pointed to the end of her immigration troubles? Why does it seem that God has failed to come through when so many miraculous events appeared to be leading to a permanent life surrounded by loved ones here in America? Why, Lord, has the bottom simply dropped out from under our friend’s life, especially when she has been such a faithful believer?
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
God’s Word is always true. It is the only constant thing upon which we can rely in our corrupt, fluctuating world. However, there are times in which our brains would look upon a situation such as my friend’s and think, “God, this verse in Romans appears to be a mockery. How in heaven’s name could anything positive ever come from this situation? One that causes so much heartbreak?”
And yet, we know that God doe not lie. His word is true.
I am reminded of a speaker I heard at a youth conference many years ago. His name is Dr. Micah Parker. Micah’s story deeply affected me. To summarize, his life contained many devastating turns of events, involving the sudden and unexpected death of his young wife. Micah calls himself “The Trust Guy”. Why? Because he preaches the message that God allows evil to enter the world, and oftentimes, he will entrust his faithful ones with the trials and consequences. Micah remembers the moment when a friend revealed this to him. “Micah, God must really trust you to have put you through your situation,” he was told.
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40: 28-31)
I believe that God often entrusts those he loves with difficult tasks and hardship because he knows that they will handle them with a trusting, Christlike heart. The Lord reminds his people in the above verses in Isaiah that, even when the going is exceedingly disheartening, those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength. They will continue to walk without losing all hope, for the Lord’s strength will carry them through as they show others the ways in which the Lord calls us navigate our worldly troubles.
Godly people experiencing pain can be some of the most evangelical, powerful testimonies shown to non-believers, to a watching world.
Thoroughly unfair though it may appear to us, it is a promise that we will experience trouble in this world. God promises this:
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
Only God can provide a peace beyond understanding during these trying times.
Only God knows what we have gone through and what we have yet to experience.
Only God can give us true peace in times of trouble.
Yes, life will be hard. But only God has overcome the world!
Dear Lord, We do not know why catastrophes happen. We do not know why some experience more heartache than others. We do know that your love is strong, true, and enduring. We do know that we will live with you forever in Paradise, far from the evils of the flesh.
We pray for stronger relationships with you. We pray that we will always live in light of your love and mercy.