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Topic: Whispers (01/26/04)
TITLE: Fortifying Faith
By Sherri Fulmer Moorer
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Bad luck can come in any number of forms. It can be something serious, like an unexpected death, accident, or prolonged illness. Or it could come in a series of smaller situations, like the car breaking down, a leak in the bathroom, and your spouse getting ill in the same week as a big meeting at work. Whatever the cause of our troubles, it leaves us wondering the same thing – how did it come to this? This is especially disturbing if you feel you have done everything right, yet everything still went wrong.
I have seen a disturbing trend among people of faith when they face difficult circumstances. I have heard people say “God is punishing me through this situation”. This statement reflects misguided expectations about God. Hard times have nothing to do with God’s attitude toward us. It is stated in the Bible “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him” (Nahum 1:7 RSV). If God really were punishing us through trials, why would He be good to us and provide a stronghold in times of trouble?
Once when I was going through one of those aggravating turns of bad luck, I ran across God’s promise to Jeremiah that “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 LB). I realized that trials are a part of life that are not meant to beat us down, but to help us grow. We live in a messed up world that demonstrates its imperfections through disappointment, unfair circumstances, and unexplained tragedy. During these times, God wants us to lean on him. He will see us through if we walk in faith. Life isn’t fair, but we do have the protective hand of God on our lives to see us through.
I have come to accept the fact that God is not to blame for the bad things that happen to me, and I wish I could bring this insight to everybody. I once had a college professor that asked the class to write a story about their biggest learning experience and read it to the class. Upon hearing the last report, she said she noticed a common thread in all of our stories – they were all bad experiences! The point of the exercise was that more is learned from bad experiences than good ones. Studies have even indicated that wisdom comes from working through trials. I have to agree with this, because I have learned more about the power of faith through hard times than through sermons, reading, education, or any other experiences. Trials put our faith to the test by putting it in action.
Life will through us a curve from time to time. The writer of Ecclesiastes observed this when he wrote “the swiftest person does not always win the race, nor the strongest man the battle … wise men are often poor and skillful men are not necessarily famous; but it is all by chance, by happening to be at the right place at the right time. A man never knows when he is going to run into bad luck” (Ecclesiastes 9:11-12 LB). Just because we are living in this world, we don’t have to be defeated by it. In fact, Christ has always won the battle for us, and that is a power no force on earth can touch. Life may hurt at times, but God is ultimately in control, and His plans are for good. All you have to do is keep walking faith, and He will lead you toward hope for the future.