A few weeks ago, Ethan was helping me edit an article for the blog… and lost all of the work he had done. In God’s providence, right after that happened, he received an email from a friend who is going through a hard time, and is trying to make sense out of his suffering. Ethan then, wrote him a letter. When I read it, I asked him if I could post here.
Just before I read your email, I was mad. I had been working on writing something for an hour. It was something to help my wife with a project she’s working on, and something she’d been asking me to do for a few weeks. I was finally able to make some time this afternoon. Then through a glitch I lost most of my work. I was mad. It seemed not only pointless, but malicious – like a slap in the face just for trying to love my wife.
Then I read your email. I’m not mad anymore, but I’m still thinking about things that don’t make sense…
I just went outside to pray and wrestle with God, especially for you. I agree with you – it doesn’t make sense. We know “all things work together for good” for us. We know God has a plan and is in control. But sometimes that’s just not comforting, just doesn’t help at a deep level.
Sometimes people tell you “if only you knew what God was doing through this.” Maybe someone will get saved. Maybe you’ll have a fruitful ministry to people who have been traumatized by accidents in the future. That could be. But it doesn’t have to be, and we don’t know right now, so it’s not that comforting in the moment…
We know that we suffer because we’re in a broken world… The world is in the travails of childbirth, waiting for the children of God to be revealed. But that just makes our suffering seem impersonal – being caught up in a big, painful design of God with no personal significance.
We will lose all things. God is working things in and for us that are eternally weighty, to which the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing.
But don’t lose sight of something precious in this situation, right now. The thing that’s probably hardest to hold onto right now: your faith.
Some things that happen in life may have no other payout than praise and honor and glory at the revealing of Jesus Christ. We might not see a tangible increase in devotion to God, in patience, in fruit of the Spirit, in conversions, in usefulness in God’s kingdom. I think that’s especially true the closer we get to death. What is the “working together for good” of the suffering for an elderly Christian with a terminal sickness? But there is that faith. The gift God gave you, that heart that says “’Blessed be your name’ even if He kills me.” The treasure in earthen vessels. The thing more precious that gold, though it is refined by fire – your faith.
God treasures the evidence, the testedness, the proof of your faith. Because when you honor and trust Him, though He takes everything from you, it shows that He is the most worthy thing in the world. It magnifies Him. It demonstrates that you are from the age to come, a son of God. Job’s testing gave that proof. Habakkuk could exult in God though everything else failed.
1 Peter 1:3 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Brother, may you be gifted to treasure the proving of your faith as our Father does. One day we will all see your faith for what it is. Keep fighting.
I love you, brother.