By Dai Ning
In real life, every time we face unfortunate events such as setbacks and illnesses, we may think that God has forsaken us and no longer protects us, and thereby sink into negativity and lose our faith in God. Yet as long as we in these situations and understand His will, our mistaken viewpoints will be turned around.
In your belief in God, what do you expect to receive from Him?
Do you want peace that is present regardless of time or place, or the blessings that you ask for?
For everyone, the witnessing of marvelous grace is more popular than truth and sermons.
It seems as if the Lord is forever the embodiment of grace, blessings, compassion, and mercy. And because of this, after we believe in God, we expend ourselves for Him with great enthusiasm, and are willing to follow Him all our lives.
Then, there comes a day when God turns His face away from us and baptizes us in discipline, frustrations, diseases, and trials. At such time, our faith in Him suddenly turns cold, and we become full of misunderstandings and blame for God. We become weak to the point of being unable to get back on track.
There was once a sister who was like this.
After returning to God, her long-term illness was cured and her business also began to thrive.
Filled with zeal, she resolved to repay God’s love all her life. For many years, she often donated money to the church, and when she had time she also went out to preach. Her enthusiasm was obvious to all.
Then unexpectedly, a sudden misfortune came upon her: She met her Waterloo in business, and as a result went bankrupt overnight. And she also fell ill at the same time.
Facing all this, she earnestly prayed to God for His mercy. But God did not seem to treat her the same way as before.
During that time, people in her church said that she must have offended God and have been forsaken by God.
That night, she wailed and prayed to God: “O, God! Where are You? Have You really forsaken me?”
She concluded that God truly had abandoned her. She thought how in the pasthad always followed her in everything she did, but suddenly she was without the protection of God. If it was not due to the abandonment of God, what was the reason for it?
Thus, she lived in the midst of suffering and helplessness and did not know how to face it all. So she stayed at home and sighed all day long.
One day, several sisters came to visit her. They read her two passages of teachings, and her complaints and misunderstandings of God were thus resolved.
The passages they read were: “My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:2-4). “Silly children! You always feel that a few lucky words count as My blessing, yet don’t feel that bitterness is one of My blessings. Those who share in My bitterness shall certainly share My sweet. That is My promise and My blessing to you.”
After listening to these passages, and the sisters’ fellowshiping about them, she finally understood: Her encountering unfortunate events such as setbacks and ailments did not, as she imagined, mean that God had forsaken her and no longer protected her. Rather, they were God’s trials and were Him refining her. It turned out that these things contained God’s good intentions. Through them, God was letting her know that she had been holding a mistaken viewpoint in her belief in God by thinking that peace in everything was a form of God’s blessing and meant that God was with her, while encountering unfortunate events meant that God had forsaken her. Then she thought of her past: When God cured her illness and blessed her with a successful career after she first believed in Him, she made a resolution to repay God’s love. She was then able to willingly donate money and to go out to preach the gospel when she had time. But later on, after suffering the failure of her business and illness, she lost herand even blamed and misunderstood Him. From this, she saw that in her belief in God there were impurities, transactions, and demands. Actually, God is the Creator, and we humans are just created beings. God has given us life and supplied us with all things necessary for our survival, such as air, food, the truth that we require, etc. Therefore, it is the law of heaven and earth that we people should believe in and worship God. If our belief in God is only for the sake of being blessed and claiming grace from Him, then God will not approve of our belief. Thank God for letting her realize her mistaken viewpoint on her belief in God. Through the sisters’ fellowshiping, she also realized that in addition to exposing that her belief in God involved a tradeoff, God’s allowing her to encounter these things was to perfect her faith in Him, so that she would never lose faith in Him. Without experiencing these things, no matter how many years she followed God, or how much grace and protection she received from God, her stature would forever be as little as an infant’s and she would only know how to demand grace and blessings from God and bear testimony of grace, yet never know how to be firm in faith and bear glorious and resounding witness for God in all types of situations and environments.
At this point, let’s examine the faith that Job, our spiritual model, displayed during his trials, when his livestock, enough to cover a mountain, was robbed, all his possessions were lost, and his body became covered with boils. At that time, his wife thought he shouldn’t suffer misfortune because of his faith in God. She thus asked him to abandon God and die, and his friends said that he must have offended God and was thus abandoned by God. Yet Job did not think like that, nor did he blame God; rather, he said this very rational thing: “shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10). All this proved that Job did not conduct transactions with God in his belief. He believed that no matter whether he was given blessings or misfortune, it was all God’s design and arrangement, so he should unconditionally accept it. Moreover, in such a situation, instead of sinning with his lips Job sought and waited for God’s will to be revealed to him, and eventually he was able to bear resounding witness for God by saying: “Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah” (Job 1: 21). And his faith in Jehovah God was strengthened during this trial.
Therefore, at all times, setbacks and trials are what we need in our spiritual life, and are God’s greatest love andfor us. Through experiencing them, we can realize our impurities in our belief in God, and moreover understand that these unfortunate events befalling us do not mean that God has abandoned us; instead, it means God is purifying and perfecting us. Aren’t these gains much better than any material blessing?
» Further reading on Sermons on Suffering page, or in the articles below: