Ever feel that way? Ever feel like everything is going wrong at once?
I did this week. Monday I came down with something really nasty. I had a painful swollen throat, fever, and numerous other symptoms I will leave to your imagination.
Yesterday, everything got worse. When I woke up, I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t eat either. As I prepared to leave for a trip to the doctor, my knee froze in a bent position due to some previous sports injuries so I couldn’t extend my leg to walk. This has only happened three or four times in the last several years, but it is incredibly painful.
I needed to get to the doctor so I crawled to the front door and, after checking to make sure no neighbors were watching, I got into a football crouch and waddled to the car. Yes, I’m sure it looked hilarious. On my way to the doctor I called ahead about a dozen times to see if they could bring out crutches or a wheel chair but there was no response.
Fortunately, I was able to reach another clinic where I was met with a wheelchair, tested, and given prescriptions.
Then the car wouldn’t start – it wouldn’t even turn over. Just to recap: I can’t walk, I’m in a lot of pain, I feel miserable and feverish, my throat is swollen, I can’t eat, I can barely drink but it’s painful, … and the car won’t start. Awesome. Oh, and I can’t take the meds yet because I need to drive home!
I was absolutely miserable.
Ever feel that way?
There are two ways to respond. We can get angry and bitter for the way we feel, or we can trust God to do what is best. Given those options, I’m sure it is obvious what I’m going to say next: Trust God to do what is best!
How predictable. We both know that is the right answer. But even if we are trusting God to do what is best, what are we really trusting Him for? Who determines what is best?
We tend to think we know what is best. The best thing for me is to get better and be able to walk again today, right? We’ll come back to that in minute.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been hit by a “perfect storm” of calamities. Each time I’m reminded of Job. Job was a faithful follower to God and a wealthy man with a great family. He lost everything when Satan, with God’s permission, tested Job’s faith. While Job struggled with God over his problems, he remained faithful and was eventually rewarded. God removed Job’s problems and blessed him with more wealth and a large family in his earthly life.
We assume that what is “best” is for God to resolve our problems in this earthly life.
What if that is simply not best? What if God decides that the most beneficial thing for His glory and the best way to reach more people for His kingdom is for our problems to continue?
What if God decides that He can better use me in a wheel chair? What if I have to live with awful pains and aches all over my body for the rest of my life? These are experiences that Satan and his demons will use to test our faith, just as they did to Job thousands of years ago. Not that our problems are necessarily caused by evil forces, but they are used as a means to turn the faithful into the bitter.
James 1:2-4 says:
My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything.
When you feel absolutely miserable, don’t let evil forces get you down. Trust that God will do what is best. But remember, what is best in God’s eyes may not seem best in yours. He may choose to remove your problem. Or He may react like he did toward the Apostle Paul.
2 Corinthians 12:7b-10 says:
A thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to trouble me – so that I would not become arrogant. I asked the Lord three times about this, that it would depart from me. But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, with insults, with troubles, with persecutions and difficulties for the sake of Christ, for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.
There is nothing wrong with asking God to remove a problem from our lives. But we should be aware that God may choose to leave it in place, and this is no reason to become bitter toward God. Our weakness will point to His strength. We may be more useful to God because of our problems.
Praise God that the car started with a jump from one of our trip staff. When I returned home last night, after nothing but prayer, I could straighten my leg and walk into the house. My other symptoms are still present, but I expect they will disappear within a few days thanks to the medicine.
Even if they don’t, I trust God to do what is best. Not just for me, but for His glory and kingdom.