Article by Enok Lenkai
Uncertainties are spoken of in times of trials. This year has been graced with unpredictable troubles, as many had not seen the COVID 19 virus spreading beyond China. The response to the effects of the pandemic has been as a result of panic, fear, pain, and suffering to mankind. Talk of loss of loved ones, the economic crunch, loss of sources of livelihoods, etc. As of now, different state governments have set laws and guidelines to be followed by its citizens in a bid to contain the spread of the virus. However, for believers in Jesus Christ, our Biblical view on such matters forms the basis of our response to such unbearable times.
The world is broken as an effect of sin (Rom 5:12). Nothing makes this world a better place than the advancement of the gospel. Man is reconciled back to God the Father on the account of Jesus Christ (Col 1:19-20). We then rest assured of a relationship with our maker that extends from this moment to eternity. Any other advancement in man-made fields is good but doesn’t hold much ground for a long time since problems keep evolving.
So, where is God when all these bad things, including diseases, are cast down on earth? He is where he is, seated on the throne most high, and shaken by nothing whatsoever. The Bible speaks of Job as a man who was blameless, upright, God-fearing and he turned away from evil (Job 1:1). Satan tested him to the core of his being. His children died, he suffered from physical ailments, majority of his servants killed, and his wealth perished either in the face of natural calamities or by the hands of ungodly men. Job received this news one after the other, “While he was yet speaking, there came another and said,…”.
In such cases, man’s natural response would be anger, rage, or a thirst for vengeance. But, as we look further, Job was broken, thus fell to the ground, worshipped and said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21, ESV). How would this be his response apart from acknowledging God’s sovereign will for him? John Piper writes, “He (God) is sovereign over the whole world and everything that happens in it. He is never helpless, never frustrated, never at a loss. And in Christ, God’s awesome, sovereign providence is the place we feel most reverent, most secure, most free.”
When trials seem so much for us to bear, we resolve into questioning God as to why he would allow evil in our lives. We are prone to count on our good deeds as a token of leverage, wanting God to use it bail us out of difficult times (Job 34:5). As people called by God, our response to suffering in times of trial ought to reflect that he still God over all. Nothing passes unless ordained by him. God’s rhetorical questions in the Job 38:1-41 are what we all cannot answer pertaining his sovereignty over all things. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.” (Job 38:4, ESV).
Our response during trials
As believers in Jesus Christ, we should first acknowledge that just as Christ suffered, so we will suffer (Phil.1:29). The Lord promised sufferings to his disciples and us also on the account of the gospel. Suffering comes both in the form of persecution for believing in him and also the hurdles that life presents in our daily living.
Secondly, our sufferings are meaningful. James writes to the believing Jews to count it all joy when facing trials because the testing of their faith produces steadfastness (James 1:2-4). To develop steadfastness calls for utter dependence in God. Trials keep us dependent on God, as a helpless toddler clings on its mother for all things. We learn to trust in him who ordained our yesterday and who will do so tomorrow. God grants us strength for this day and hope for the days to come. As days progress, we do find unfathomable joy and peace by trusting in him.
We also ought to lament with portions of scripture that take our deep need for strength and endurance in times of trials to God alone. We find this in books such as Job, the Psalm and Lamentation. Praying with laments gives a solid scriptural way of confining our confession of sins, weaknesses, and trials to God.
More so, our faith should all along be rooted in God for salvation. Not only does God take us through the sufferings of this world to triumphant glory, but also restores and strengthens us in this journey (1 Peter 5:10).
Horatio Spafford wrote at his dreadful moment, ” When peace like a river attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know, it is well, it is well with my soul.” I hope and pray that God’s peace that surpasses all human understanding may guide our minds and hearts in Christ Jesus at all times. Amen.