I attended a funeral last week. It was a difficult one. One of the most difficult funerals I have attended. You see, it was a life that was snuffed out even before it had a chance to live – a still born child. I watched as the parents, overcome with grief, led the procession and once again I wished I had the answer to the question we all inwardly asked, “why?”
What do you do when overwhelming circumstances descend on you like an unsuspecting tsunami that threatens to drown you? What do you do when something happens that squeezes your heart so hard that you wonder when you will ever feel an emotion apart from pain? What do you do when your hope is deferred without you ever getting the chance to prepare your self for the outcome? What do you do when trials come?
I (and others) have been so encouraged by this couple’s handling of a very sad situation. In their grief they have run to God rather than away from Him. They have refused to blame Him or direct their anger at Him. Emotions that would be very understandable in the circumstances. No, instead their testimony is that God is still good, and that His faithfulness is unquestionable. Perplexed, yes, but not driven to despair.
We live in a fallen world. Things are not always like they were meant to be. When Jesus returns, there will be a new heaven and a new earth. Sickness, lack, pain and sadness will be removed forever. Until then however, you and I have to face some challenges. The more prepared we are, the better we will be able to come out victorious – no matter the outcome. I love it when the apostle Paul makes what must be one of the understatements of the New Testament – “for our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!” (2 Corinthians 4: 17-18)
Further ahead in chapter 11 of the same book, Paul allows himself a moment of ‘madness’ (his words not mine) as he lists what his own troubles have been. They include imprisonment, physical abuse with a rods and such like, near death experiences, stoning, shipwreck, lack and emotional trauma. Small troubles? I think not. Momentary? Hardly, unless you are using a different gauge from what most people would use. So come on, Paul, what’s your secret? How did you face such horrendous trials without going under? Paul is generous enough to let us in on what he has learned. This is no grandmother’s recipe that must be guarded at all costs. No, this is information that Paul is willing to share – with all who will care to listen and learn.
“So now,” he says, “I am glad to boast about my weakness so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions and troubles that I suffer for Christ.” Now here is the priceless nugget; the secret to Paul’s success, the missing ingredient in so many lives – “for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (I have made that bold because I can almost imagine Paul shouting this out – he so wants us to get this). But what do you mean, Paul?
When I am at my weakest, Christ has the chance to be His strongest. The weaker I am, the stronger He is. The more I need to lean on the Rock that is Christ, the more He has a chance to prove that He really is the Rock that cannot be shaken. Wow! What a treasure! So I can say with all gusto, come on enemy of my soul, fire your best shot. I may look like I am weak, but what you cannot see is the Rock that is underneath me, behind me, in front of me, beside me, inside me. In fact, He’s all over me. I cannot lose. Read the end of the Book. It says, we win. Amen. Full stop. End of story.
In His love