Sunday, 21 June 2015

Faith in times of trial

'Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honour and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith - the salvation of your souls' 1 Peter 1:3-9

Why does God allow us to go through trials?
Why do bad things happen to 'good' people?
Why does life not become straightforward when you become a Christian?
Where can we truly have hope?

Some of the biggest questions anybody ever asks about faith is why a 'good God' should allow bad things to happen. Perhaps even more so during this generation of instant communication and instant answers, people really seem to grapple with the concept of eternity. That this life is not all there is. That trials and hardships can produce fruit, giving God great glory.

However, if you ask most Christians who have experienced trials, many will speak of how this time strengthened their faith and brought them closer to God than ever before. Others discover the truth about God for the first time when walking through such times. 

For us, this really was our experience when seven years ago our firstborn child suddenly became seriously ill. During the six weeks she was in hospital, I knew without any shadow of a doubt that:

1) God is real
2) God is good
3) God has eternal purposes

At the time, we were greatly encouraged to hear of how others were challenged by our faith, and some came to know the Lord for themselves through her short life. I often imagine how one day when we get to heaven, she will take us by the hand and lead us to people who are in heaven because they heard the truth about God through her story. Seven years later, I still hear such testimonies, although not with the same frequency. It also has a great (and positive) impact on our boys, who talk about her all the time.

Shortly after she died I met a colleague at a conference and told him about her life and how God had blessed us. I did not know then that he was a Christian, but through God's providence we have been in touch again recently. He now has a diagnosis of a brain tumour and humanly speaking the outlook is extremely poor. However, he sent this testimony - it's about 40 minutes long, but I believe it will challenge and inspire you.

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