Archives for posts with tag: Hebrew Children

Why is my life filled with so much pain and struggle? What have I done wrong to deserve this? If I just had enough faith, this would not have happened! These and other comments reflect a misunderstanding of faith and life.

There are people who believe that faith in God will prevent tragedy and adversity. They espouse the understanding that God watches over God’s people and will shield them from all harm. They have scripture on their side and they quote verses like 2 Samuel 22:3 “My God is my rock—I take refuge in him!— he’s my shield and my salvation’s strength, my place of safety and my shelter.” Or “God is a shield for all who take refuge in him” (Psalm 18:30).

There are many more similar expressions of confidence that God looks out for God’s own- and I believe them too. But we have to consider the whole of the Bible and not just select verses.

The Bible contains many strong assertions that God will protect and prevent people of faith from suffering disaster. There are many examples where that is dramatically demonstrated and the faith of God’s followers is affirmed. Stories in the Bible and history contain details of people who trusted God and were spared. The Hebrew Children is an excellent example. King Nebuchadnezzar had them thrown into a fiery furnace but they were rescued without even the hair on their head being burned.

Trust God and everything will be alright! But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego understood the possibility that they would not be spared. With that awareness they said, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us… But even if he does not…we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18).

The story of Job is an interesting one. In spite of the fact that he had lost many of the things that were important, he refused to stop trusting God. He said, “Even if God killed me, I’d keep on hoping.” What about the Apostle Paul. It has been said that he is second only to Jesus as the most important person in the origins of Christianity and he certainly did not have an easy life.

Ok, so faith does not always prevent adversity but God will deliver those who put their trust in Him. Right? Yes but perhaps not exactly as we would wish.

Chapter 11 of The Book of Hebrews chronicles the exploits of many “heroes of faith.” Their mighty and miraculous deeds are listed and the writer suggests there are too many such people and stories to mention them all. But the record shows that there were others who were tortured, imprisoned, stoned, and persecuted in ways too horrible to mention. “Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised” (Heb. 11:39-40 MSG).

“When disaster strikes, or calamity becomes the norm, there is no human logic that can explain all of the questions, ‘Why?’  There are things that, quite frankly, seem to make no sense at all.  Much of our human suffering appears arbitrary and senseless…One day every person faces eternity through death; better to believe in God through His son Jesus, and at least have the assurance of eternal life.  The trials of this life are temporary, even though they may seem to drag on forever.  Faith becomes the reality and evidence of what eternity will one day make vivid and real.”**

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth, “ For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18, NRSV).

It is important to maintain faith in a loving and powerful God Almighty. To believe that all things are possible if you believe. At the same time one must realize that faith does not guarantee a victorious outcome in this earthly life. The words to a song by Mercy Me captures what I am trying to say.

I know You’re able and I know You can save through the fire with Your mighty hand. But even if You don’t my hope is You alone.

They say it only takes a little faith to move a mountain. Good thing. A little faith is all I have right now. But God, when You choose To leave mountains unmovable give me the strength to be able to sing it is well with my soul.”

Regardless of circumstances the important thing is to come to the end of this earthly journey and be able to say, “I have finished my course. I have fought a good fight. I have kept the faith.” Then you can be assured that you will receive God’s approval and the prize will be worth the journey (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

Jamie Jenkins
*”Even If” by MercyMe- writers: Bart Millard, Ben Glover, Crystal Lewis, David Garcia, Tim Timmons

**Why Should I Believe In A God Who Doesn’t Seem To Help? by Craig Blumel

 

 

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Someone described me as a realistic optimist. I am not exactly sure what that is or if it is an accurate assessment. Nevertheless I do believe that denying reality is not helpful but one does not have to be beaten down by it.

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Honestly facing realities that are unpleasant is the first step in amending circumstances, attitudes, or actions when things are not what you want them to be or how they should be.

Once you acknowledge that something is bad or wrong, you can begin to change some things for the better. On other occasions you must come to terms with the fact that you cannot always have what you want and you make proper preparations for future outcomes.

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But you say, I believe in miracles. I do too but I recognize that they don’t always occur when and where I want them to occur.

Recently I heard Phil and Dave Alvin sing “I believe this old world is in a bad condition.” I thought to myself, “Boy, they are right!” Accepting that reality does not lead me to be fatalistic or negative. Instead it helps me realize that there is work to be done. I believe that things don’t have to stay the way they are and I must do all I can to effect positive change. I must also be prepared to accept the limitations of being human. While there are some things I can change, there are many more that are beyond my ability.

Health issues, economic disasters, broken relationships, bigotry, war, famine, prejudice and a million other things may cause concern, but I cannot fix all the problems of my own life and I am definitely unable to change the whole world.

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You say, “But God can do anything.” I believe that, but I recognize that God does not correct all our mistakes or change all of our painful experiences. I have faith in God but God is not a genie that awaits my beck and call. I do not understand why some things are the way they are- both “good” and “bad” things. But I accept things as they are and trust God to work in mysterious and miraculous ways to make things right.  Or to give me the strength to make it through.

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When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the fiery furnace they said to King Neduchadnezzar, “Our God whom we serve is able to rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not…” (Daniel 3:17-18)

John Sammis understood that everyone is subject to suffering and sorrow when he wrote:

Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.

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Inherent in the words of that hymn and in the words of the Hebrew Children is the understanding that things will not always be pleasant. The presence of adversity and difficulty is not an indication that God has abandoned us or that we lack faith. In fact, we can depend on God to be with us in all of the trials of life. Not always to extricate us from the problems but to be with us in them.

I am called to trust and obey. To do all that I can and leave the rest up to God. Often I simply have to accept that it is what it is and not lose faith regardless of the outcome.

Jamie Jenkins