How can a loving God allow painful experiences in the lives of those who serve Him? Why do faithful servants in the Kingdom walk through dark times? Where is God’s mighty hand of deliverance when His children are faced with deep heartache and tragedy?
While we may never fully understand the Lord’s purpose, there are promises in God’s Word that will encourage us through the valley and strengthen us in our journey.
We can draw strength from the story of Job. Job lost his possessions, his children were killed, and his health failed. Did God thoroughly explain to Job all the reasons for the trial? No. Through Job’s darkest days, he remained faithful to God, even though he did not understand.
Is it possible that the reason for Job’s devastating experience was to encourage and bless us? Imagine how many thousands and tens of thousands of believers have been strengthened by his story—and Job never knew the journal of his experience would help so many. Job endured, and we reap the benefit:
“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
Volcanos bring fiery devastation, sometimes destroying entire communities and leaving miles of ruin. Volcanic ash deposits from two 1994 eruptions in Papua New Guinea covered the nearby city of Rabaul in a layer of ash about two feet deep while areas closer to the volcano were buried under five to seven feet of ash (nationalgeographic.org). Today’s images of Rabaul show nothing of this incredible devastation. Flowers bloom, vibrant colors abound, and people mill about. How? New life springs forth to replace the death and ruin.
“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified” (Isaiah 61:3).
Approximately thirteen years after Joseph was sold into slavery, he discovered the purpose for all his pain: he could save the world from starvation. Through false accusations, humiliation, imprisonment, loneliness, and separation from his family, God had a plan.
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20, ESV).
We find true peace when we trust Him. Children aren’t happy when parents set restrictions for eating unhealthy foods, require proper rest, prohibit playing in the street, and shelter the child from worldly influences. Children are upset because they know sugar tastes delicious and staying awake is more fun than sleeping. Parents know the long-term impact is more important than the short-term. Parents see where unhealthy and ungodly paths lead.
As God’s children, we may not understand His ways or plan. But God is faithful, and we can trust Him. God promises to use our pain for His glory, and all things will work together for good when we relinquish control and trust our heavenly Father.
Be encouraged! God has not forgotten you. Beauty arises from the ashes, and there is a purpose for our pain. Hold onto the promises in God’s Word. Trust, even when you can’t see the plan. Hold onto hope when all seems lost. As two old songs so eloquently express, “It will be worth it all when we see Jesus” and “We will understand it better by and by.”