Is God Unkind? A Letter to Christians During Hardship
This article was originally published in 2016. In light of current events, we felt it was appropriate to republish.
Dear child of God, how earnestly the bowels of God’s compassion yearn after you! You are a dear child to Him when you simply honor Him in everyday circumstances! You can be a source for others to thank God when they pray, because they hear of your love and faith that you have towards the Lord Jesus and for other saints! A simple walk of faith is visible to others and it encourages them to trust in the Lord with all of their heart. Perhaps these few sentiments can comfort you with the kind of comfort described in 2 Corinthians 1:3-11.
Do you remember the compassion of Jesus when He healed the woman who had been in bondage to Satan for 18 years? (See Luke 13) His care for her is the same as it is to all who trust Him: Jesus sets the captives free! Setting captives free is His foremost motive for each of us. In all of our earthly circumstances Satan wants to trouble and chain us; however, Jesus will set us free! What puts you and me into bondage? The fear of death! “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (Hebrews 2:14-15).
The grimness of life Yes, in this life there is SO MUCH DEATH! We must be delivered from our fears by faith in the promises of Jesus or be chained in bondage by Satan through our fears. Grace works to strengthen our faith in the face of death. How? You simply trust God in the face of today’s fears just as you have already learned to trust him in the past. Did not Jesus say that the mark of the disciple is that they do not try to save their life, but will lose it for Christ’s sake and the Gospel’s? Taking up your cross means to surrender to today’s instrument of death, whatever that may be, and to continue to follow after Christ in the shadow of today’s death-threat. Only God knows best what you really need to grow in faith before Him; He has chosen the span of your life and all of its circumstances. He is not unkind! We can only measure the value of this life by the joys we have experienced in this life, but God knows of joys beyond our wildest imaginations, eternal joys! The Apostle Paul put it this way, “For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you” (2 Cor. 4:6-12).
The glory of God You and believing family are precious and chosen vessels to demonstrate God’s glory; however, His glory can only shine through your earthly weakness. By faith, your eyes must see the glory of God’s promises; just like Jesus did, Who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame! (Hebrews 12:3) The path of trusting God is a simple path in ordinary circumstances. When you fix your eyes on your circumstances from God’s viewpoint, you see His reward! Do not be encumbered with the heavy worries of so many modern couples! Worries are chains of bondage; love not your life to the death! Don’t be afraid of what trusting God may cost you in earthly terms, trust God and brightly shine the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ! Faith is a simple trust to the believer, but it is not so simple to the rest of the world! All it sees is the cost. Today, you may be able to shine forth God’s glory through the difficult path or circumstance that He has allowed to come your way! Glory may shine forth while you are sitting in the hospital so that the nurses and doctors marvel at your faith and desire to know your God because His glory is so precious through you to them! That is an example of how death can work in you and life work in the onlookers! It sounds to me like the glorious plan is not how we worry ourselves to escape death, but how not to give into the worrisome fear of death! “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Cor. 4:8-9) Each of these descriptions could be chains of bondage, but they will not be so to God’s trusting servants!! Are these words similar to how you are feeling? These feelings are real; however, they are being driven by Satan to tempt you to despair of this life. The battle is not the problem, giving into Satan’s lies is. I was so blessed to learn that the Apostle Paul despaired of his life during his very difficult trials in Asia. He praised God for the comfort God gave him, but he wanted us to know just how hard the battle of despair was for him. This is what he said: “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. For we are not writing to you anything other than what you read and understand and I hope you will fully understand—just as you did partially understand us—that on the day of our Lord Jesus you will boast of us as we will boast of you” (2 Cor. 1:8-14). The glory of eternity
We are all going to die, there is no escape from it! The sentence of death is God’s key to teaching us to trust Him because He raises the dead. The puny glory of this life is nothing compared to the coming glory of eternity! Paul said that God delivers in three ways: 1) from “so great a death” (hell); 2) from the daily deliverances we take for granted: and 3) from future death, (which means the fear of death coming at us in every daily circumstance). Lamentations 3 helps us have perspective for each of these:
“I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of his wrath; ... He has filled me with bitterness; he has sated me with wormwood. ... my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, ‘My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the LORD.’ ... But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’ The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. ... For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men. ... to deny a man justice in the presence of the Most High, ... Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?” (Lam. 3:1, 15, 17-18, 21-26, 31-33, 35, 37-38).
The harder life is for you, the greater is God’s trust in you as a vessel to show forth His glory to the ones He calls you to serve! “For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, …. We are weak, …we are held in disrepute. To this present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things. I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. ... I urge you, then, be imitators of me” (1 Cor. 4:9-14, 16).
The example of Job
God saw Job as a giant of faith. He allowed the most severe trials to happen which demonstrated his great faith. The devil wanted to condemn him as a big sinner because the trials were so huge – there had to be a punishment!! At first, Job defended his integrity, because it was true, and the lie hurt; however, he wanted someone to point out to God how unfair (unkind?) He was to Job. Now the end shows Job repenting of sin. What sin? Trying to figure out God’s fairness! How did God change Job’s mind? Did he answer all of Job’s questions? No! He gave him a really heavy science lesson!! Essentially he said this, “If you think that you can evaluate me about your personal affairs, let me see you explain some real easy truths about the creation! Can’t do it, can you? Then how can you understand my wisdom and way with you?” God’s ways are past finding out, so we base our hope and trust in Him upon his Word and clear promises. We leave the understanding to Him, knowing He is a good God. He hates robbery for a burnt offering, but will repay us double of all he has taken from us during our trials. Misery is a Mercy, because it teaches us to trust in God and not ourselves. The point of my fear is the place of my faith!
“What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee” (Psalm 56:3).