I often write about the stresses and difficulties of life because life is – well it’s difficult! We all struggle with the trials and hardships of life and we need hope and comfort. We need to know that we are not alone; that someone will be there for us in our darkest hour. We also need to know that our trials have a purpose; that they are not simply arbitrary, random events that serve no earthly (or heavenly) good. More to the point we need to know that there is a divine and eternal purpose in the bad things that happen to us.
This past week I’ve received several emails that shared sad stories of hardships. One involved the young daughter of missionaries who had to be airlifted to Florida because of a life threatening illness. Another related the story of two Filipino Christians traveling through Haiti who were robbed of their passports and money and are now in Port-au-Prince destitute, without anyone to help them. Do we really believe that God has a purpose in all of this? Will these people ever understand His purpose? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Sometimes God chooses to reveal His purposes but sometimes He remains silent.
The difficult part in all of this is when we never see how God uses the trials in our lives for our good (or someone else’s) and His glory. The Old Testament patriarchs often experienced tremendous hardships without ever seeing God’s purposes. One OT figure that had the unique privilege of seeing God’s plan work out so that he understood his suffering was Joseph. At the end of his life – after being mistreated by his own brothers, sold into slavery, framed for a crime he did not commit and thrown into prison, he could say you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good (Genesis 50:20). God had a purpose in Joseph’s suffering and He has a purpose in the bad things of life that happen to you.
I received a third email that I want to share with you. You’ve heard of the miners in Chile who have been trapped underground for several months and are now just hours away from being rescued. The following letter was shared by a mission executive.
Dear Friends: We are praising the Lord for permitting us to visit the San Jose Mine in Chile this past week. This is the mine where there are 33 miners who have been trapped in a mine down under the earth for several months. We were able to preach a message of love, hope, and salvation in Jesus Christ.
We travelled 2,000 kilometers or approximately 1,200 miles to present a letter to each of the 33 trapped miners explaining the plan of salvation. This letter was lowered to the part of the mine where these men are. We thank you for your prayers on our behalf. We were able to talk with family members of the miners, and some made a profession of faith. We were able to encourage them and pray with them as well. We distributed 1,000 gospel tracts. We feel God performed a miracle in allowing us to enter this area and to be able to freely present the gospel.
Pastor Mauricio Rojas, one of our Adelphos missionaries, accompanied me on this trip. We thank you for your prayers for us, and ask that you continue to uphold us before the throne of grace. Please continue to pray for these 33 miners who are still trapped below the earth. We are asking God to bring each one to a saving knowledge of our Lord.
Your servant from Chile,
Patricio Oliva, President, Adelphos Mission Agency
What a wonderful example of God using a tragedy to accomplish His purposes! Trapped underground so that they could hear the saving message of Jesus.
The Apostle Paul addressed this issue with words of hope that we can hang onto when we don’t understand the events of life. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Some manuscripts read we know that God causes all things to work together for good. In ways that we cannot understand, God brings all of the events of our lives, the good and the bad, together to accomplish His plan. For our good and for His eternal glory. And because of that we can hang on – even when we don’t understand.
Stay in the Word