We stood bedside as we watched a dear family member struggle unto death. Loud grunts filled the hospital room for what seemed like hours as she labored for every breath. As she was a woman of faith, some questioned: “So, for a woman who served God all these years, is this how it’s going to go down? Is this fair?!”
That form of questioning brought back memories of a similar conversation I had with a young woman who recently disavowed Christianity. When I asked why she replied, “My uncle was shot last year, for no reason. And I don’t know a man more undeserving of that.” On a more personal note, as I look over my own life I’m inclined to ask, “Based on circumstances alone, would I know that God loves me?”
These are big questions. Big, not merely because of their apparent complexity like some long math problem, but because their answers lead to life or death, joy or sorrow. With that, I’ve found reprieve in the question behind the questions, which is: “Is our life a time of trial or reward? Are things to shake out evenly in this life or, on the whole, is this life a test for a reward in the next?”
It’s here that Jesus answers with His life and His word. His life, in that, “…for the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:2). And in His word, where time and time again He asserts that whatever is given or taken away in this life will be restored to the saints in Heaven (Matt 16:24-26, Luke 18:28-30). That reward isn’t to be found in this life, but the next. Justice is not to be demanded in this life, but exacted in the next.
So, for us today, in all our trials and tribulations, sorrow and pain two thoughts that will hopefully humble us and lead us to worship:
1. We deserve no good thing from God and yet He blesses.
2. His love for us is best seen in His promises and not our circumstance.
God’s love and smile may appear obscure in providence, but our assurance of it lies securely in His word, the Scripture, and His Word, Jesus the Son of God.
“Judge not Christ’s love by providences, but by promises.”
Thomas Wilcox, Honey Out Of The Rock
We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
2 Peter 1:19
And this is what he promised us—eternal life.
1 John 2:25
David Noel, Jr. is the Director of Youth Ministry and leads our CrossRoads Young Adults Ministry.