That is a word that is heard often in the world of rare disease. It’s a word that is often heard in life.
Why did this happen to my child? Why him? Why our family? Why would a loving God allow something this terrible?
God spoke to me through a Nigerian man. A man of faith who has partnered with our church in his ministry for some time. His lessons speak of real persecution, as often happens in his country unfortunately.
Suicide bombers driving onto church compounds. Taking two hours to get to church on a drive that should take 15 minutes because you have to go through military checkpoints that are searching for weapons and bombs. Walking through metal detectors to walk into services. It is that situation that I thought of when I recent wrote about the idea of being an American martyr.
He spoke recently and as he stepped up to speak, I eagerly anticipated his insight, his challenge to our comfortable lives.
And so he began with Ephesians 6:19, “Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.”
Although I had just written these same words last month right here on this blog, his reference point was much different than mine. For him, fearlessly meant without fear of death. For those of us living in relative religious freedom, it is simply without fear of ridicule. I am definitely not in his league. But it did remind me that God can use all of us in our own mission field.
Before coming to church that morning, I had read the devotional from the Baptist Bible Hour app on my phone. It just happened to be about Comfort and spoke of 2 Corinthians 1:4:
Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
It reminded me of how we are used by God in those places that sometimes hurt our heart the most, but in sharing that pain and in comforting others, it both can help others and in some ways, heal our own wounds.
So I’m sure you now know the passage from which he taught that morning? That very one. Specifically, he spoke about the reasons the Bible gives for suffering from 2 Corinthians 1:4-11.
- That we may be prepared to comfort others as God has comforted us.
- That we may learn not to trust in ourselves, but be dependent on God to sustain us.
- That we may learn to give thanks in everything.
The why? First, God’s ways are so much higher than mine that I don’t pretend to fully understand. But second, there are amazing reasons why – so that we can comfort, depend on God, and give thanks. It may be difficult, it may be frustrating, it may be incredibly and excruciately heartbreaking, but God has not left us without understanding.
I can truly say that those are lessons God has been trying to teach me my entire life and I still don’t have them down. When things get easy enough, it is just as easy to slip back into depending on our own strength, smarts, funds, and planning.
I can’t say that any of us would ask for more suffering in order to learn those lessons better, but I simply pray that I can learn them.