>For Better or Worse

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I had a heart troubling experience the other day. A friend shared that she had just learned that she has a disease that was contracted during her time of “rebellion.” It has been some time since her life turned around and her heart turned back to God. She has hopes for a husband, and a family, and a ministry. But now, she feels like God is punishing her for her past. Now, she can’t get her head around how any of her dreams are possible. Now, she feels like crawling into a hole and doing nothing. She is mad at God and is having a hard time grasping how He can be good when she now has to deal with this.

Isaiah 43 reads,

1 But now, this is what the LORD says– he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. 3 For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. 4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give nations in exchange for you, and peoples in exchange for your life. 5
Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. 6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth– 7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”” (Emphasis added)

Israel knew what it was to be persecuted and to feel like they had been issued the raw end of the deal. But in this short passage God is reminding them that not only was he the author of life, but specifically created them as particular people unto Himself. The same way that we as believers are “created in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:10)

God was giving them assurance that the troubles that they faced would not overwhelm them and that He was there with them. He was doing this because he loved them. My friend was asking for mercy, but God has already seen to that for her (see James 2:13). We are told in 1 John 4 that we have been given visual proof of God’s love for us.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

It was hard to see a friend in such pain. She didn’t want to talk to God but when I asked if she still believed that He was all-sovereign, she said yes. She knows in her head that God is looking out for her, but right now, her heart is wondering how on earth God could allow this to happen. I believe that this is a struggle that everyone faces to some extent. Whether discovering that you now have a disease from poor choices previously made, or you have a family member that passed away at the prime of their life; maybe you didn’t get into the school that you were positive that you should go to or a boyfriend broke your heart. It doesn’t matter how severe the pain, we all face trials that cause us to question, “Why would God allow this?”

David is a prime example. Starting as a minuscule shepherd boy, he won favor with the king by defeating Goliath single handedly. However, he did not remain in the king’s good graces because David had been anointed as the next king of Israel. Not only did he have to prove that he was worthy to serve the king (continually defeating more armies than anyone before him), but he then had to run to save his life as the king wanted him dead. Even after David becomes king, he struggles with adultery, murder, and deceitful children and wives. David’s life was “unfair” in many ways, but he loved God and is remembered as a “man after God’s own heart.”

Psalm 66 says, “8 Praise our God, all peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard; 9 he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping. 10 For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver. 11 You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. 12 You let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance….16 Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. 17 I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. 18 If I had cherished sin in my heart, the LORD would not have listened; 19 but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. 20 Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!” (Emphasis added)

David knew trials. He knew hurt and pain and suffering. Yet, despite that, he praised God, who loved him. He recognized that while God took him through different difficulties, He brought him “to a place of abundance.” God blessed David’s devotion and used the suffering he endured to strengthen him and prepare him for the blessings that God gave him. Ultimately, the same way that a husband and wife pledge to love and support each other “for better or worse,” God will be by your side, guiding you through the good times and bad.

 

Delve Deeper…

Read Romans 5:1-11, 16-20

  • How can believers in Christ have hope in times of trouble?
  • Why does God sometimes allow suffering in our life?
  • How do our sins compare to the sacrifice that God made?

Re-read Isaiah 43:1-5

  • What trials are you facing right now?
  • How is God with you in those trials and what assurance do you have in God’s promises?

*Look for “promise scriptures.” What verses can you find that tell of God’s love for you and promise to be with you and help you through the hard times?*

(There are A LOT! Trouble getting started? Try looking in Psalms to start with…J)

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