Friday, September 16, 2011

When the Rain Comes into the Christian's life

Former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli summed up life in this pessimistic way: "Youth is a blunder. Manhood is a struggle. And old age a regret."  Jesus, Himself made it clear that storms will enter every life.  But it is through these storms, hardships and tribulations that we will enter God's kingdom.

"And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, 'We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God”  Acts 14:21–22 

That’s probably not a passage we want to write in calligraphy on a plaque and hang by our front door. However it is one we need to keep close to our heart, least when trials come we run away.

We would rather the passage read, "Through many days of perpetual happiness, we enter the kingdom of God." Some who call themselves Christians actually believe that to be the truth, but that isn't Scripture, and that isn't life.  Trials and tribulations will come, Job said it best: "Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble" Job 14:1

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told a story about two men who built two homes. One of the builders erected his home on shifting sand, while the other built his home on a stable rock foundation.  Then the storms came, with wind and driving rain hitting both of those houses—hard!  The house that had been built on sand collapsed and fell in upon itself, while the one built on the rock stood firm.  The obvious moral of the story is to build your life on a foundation that will last, like the one we find in the pages of God's Word.

But there’s  a key application we choose to miss. The storm came to both lives. The wind blew on both houses. The rain poured on both buildings.  The man who was wise and carefully chose a stable foundation got pounded with the same hurricane-force winds as the man who foolishly took shortcuts and didn't bother to plan ahead.

No one is exempt from experiencing storms in life.  Good things will happen to us, as well as tragic and inexplicable things.  Every life will have its share of pain.  As much as we wish to believe otherwise, none of us gets an extended vacation beyond the reach of human suffering and tragedy.

I understand Disraeli's pessimism quoted above, however the Christian has another answer:  God is in control of the life of the Christian and can actually bring good out of bad.

That is what the Bible teaches, and that is what I know to be true. That's not to say that God will make bad into good, because bad is bad.  But it is to say that good can come out of bad.  As Romans 8:28 affirms: "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose".  It doesn’t say it will work out how you want it to, but rather for the good.  

Life is a journey and, as finite beings who live moment to moment, we can't see around the corner, never mind the next bump in the road. We can't discern God's ultimate purposes.  But we can know this:  He is watching and caring - in control and loving us with an everlasting love.

A good place to start is Timothy Keller's book "The Prodigal God"

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