Thursday, June 21, 2012

When Dark Times Come

When we hear about missionaries being afflicted by cancer or killed by terrorists or when Christians who have been faithfully serving God are struck by unexplainable tragedies, we are tempted to ask, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” When our own lives are darkened by the storms of life, we are also prone to ask, “Why me?”

The tribulations and trials of our lives make sense only when seen through our relationship with God. We are living in a "cuckoo culture" in which we are encouraged to seek power over other people in order to be successful in life. We live in a godless world where power is abused by selfish desires; where people are motivated by money through their greed; and where sex becomes an addiction through lust. We become heartless, mindless and addicted to pleasure. We need to recognize  that there is a judgment against the evil of selfishness, greed and lust. We live in a world that is darkened by evil and in need for the light of God's mercy and grace. When we live godless lives and troubles come our way, it is not unexpected that we will see our misfortunes as God's punishment.

But when we see life from God's perspective we will understand that life is not about our happiness but the joy of living in God's presence through our faith in Christ. Such faith is not mindless, heartless or fearful. True faith is a covenant relationship with God which involves our mind, heart and soul, expressed through a trustful obedience to seek and do God’s will, as a grateful response to God’s amazing grace that is revealed through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Only then can we count it all joy when the dark storms of life come upon us. When we are straying away from God, we will see our problems as God’s way of keeping us from evil and drawing us back to Him. Problems are then not seen as God’s punishment but as God’s discipline.

Then as we seek to be God’s instruments of love, we need to be equipped to handle the blessings of fame or fortune. God may need to lead us into difficult times to refine our character flaws so that we will not fall into the temptations of the evil one. Jesus was led into the wilderness for forty days to face the temptations of Satan. Our minds need to be renewed and we need to be more tender-hearted. We need to learn to see our life challenges as God’s refining fire to purify our hearts.

Finally, as we surrender our lives to be soldiers of Christ, we will be the targets of the evil one. But the good news is that the battle belongs to the Lord. We have the victory because Christ is in us. And as we die to our selves, others will see more of God in us. So we need not be afraid of dark times for they are God’s ways to protect us, to equip us and to use us for His glory. Let us thank God for the wonderful gift of His Holy Spirit:

So we can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. “  (Romans 5:3-5, NLT)

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