The Bible is filled with promises.
To name a few, Jesus promises to never leave us or forsake us. He promises that there is nothing on Earth that can pluck us out of His hand. He promises a peace that passes all understanding that can sustain us in crisis. He promised to prepare a place for us in heaven. And, He promises one day He will return and make all things new. Such promises are often quoted by believers, or printed on 3″x 5″
scripture cards for use around the dinner table as a source of encouragement.
But here’s one promise of Jesus that most of us would never “claim.” Jesus promises “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV). Did you see it? Jesus says you and I will experience trouble. That’s a promise. In this life we will experience sickness, persecution, disappointment, and trauma. Jesus doesn’t attempt to gloss over that fact. Why, then, do we have such difficulty seeing the hand of God at work when trials arrive on our doorstep?
It’s as if we’re surprised or blindsided by the fact that suffering is a part of life. What’s our immediate response when we lose a job, when we’re betrayed by a business partner, when the doctor announces that, yes, the cancer is back, or when we watch a child prodigal swimming in a sea of wrong choices? More often than not, we ask, “Where’s God?” We wonder, “If God loves me, why have I been dealt such a blow?” Allow me to illustrate this with a letter from our mailbag:
“A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to go on a missions trip to a foreign country. It was an amazing experience which, unfortunately, ended early when I became extremely ill. It was assumed that when I returned to the United States, I would soon recover and be able to resume my normal, active life. Not only am I still battling my illness, but numerous doctors have told me that this will likely be a chronic condition. It seems that all of my dreams have been put on hold, at least for the time being.
“In the months following my diagnosis, I began to struggle with my faith. I haven’t doubted God’s existence, but I have questioned His love for me. Furthermore, it’s been difficult for me to completely trust the Lord in the face of so many ‘unknowns’ in my life right now. This is all the more reason why I was thankful to receive Dr. Dobson’s book, When God Doesn’t Make Sense, which I just finished reading.
“In processing what I learned, I’ve come to the conclusion that I will likely never know why I contracted this illness, and that it will never seem fair that this happened while doing missions work. At the same time, however, God has reminded me that He loves me and has a plan and a purpose for all of life’s events. I’m confident that, in some way, the Lord will be glorified through my health challenges. Thank you for helping me see these truths.”
Which brings me to one more biblical promise. Paul, a follower of Christ, wrote: “My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). While it’s true we will have trials in this life, God, the Creator, the giver of life, the lover of our souls, also promises to supply everything we need to endure.
What an amazing promise!