In the Beginning
Many of you are familiar with that famed account of Creation in the book of Genesis. The ball of dirt that God breathed life into, the rib He painstakingly fashioned into a woman, Adam and Eve’s unparalleled relationship with God--it was Paradise, innocent and blissful.
I'm sure many of you are also familiar with the Fall. The moment that Eve decided that she would be the one to determine what was right and wrong.
After Eve made this decision and Adam fell with her, God began to change everything they’d ever known. For Eve, there was now pain in childbirth. For Adam, thorns and thistles would fight to destroy his crops for the rest of his life.
We attribute many of the sufferings of this life to Adam and Eve’s decision. With their sin, death stepped on the stage for the very first time.
As a result, our world is now flawed--with cancer, blindness, natural disasters, and unimaginable circumstances across the globe.
People become enslaved to their flesh and decide that they, like Eve, will be the ultimate decision-makers for what is right and wrong. This, in turn, means that their fleshly propensity for evil reigns as they become deceptive and manipulative.
One of the most humbling scenes in the New Testament is when God robed Himself in flesh--humbling because He placed that innocent baby into our fallen, sinful world--complete with wicked rulers and prideful religious leaders--to offer you and me redemption.
As Jesus grew and entered His ministry, He performed many miracles. At one point, His disciples were panicking about a storm that was threatening to capsize their boat, and Jesus simply stood up, commanded the waves to be still, and the tempest obeyed.
I began to think about this the other day: what if there had been no storm? His disciples never would have recognized His ability to control nature. What if there had never been any blind eyes or deaf ears for Him to heal on his journeys? What if, in the Old Testament, there had never been a great Red Sea for the Israelites to fret about?
If you remove every aspect of fallen human nature and a fallen world from the Bible, you miss out on the evidence that God is a healer and merciful redeemer.
Without the story of the three Hebrew boys being thrown into a blazing furnace, we wouldn’t know that God rewards our loyalty to Him by being a faithful Protector and Deliverer in return.
I believe the same is true in our own individual lives. If we had it easy--no miscarriages, no ridicule, no sickness, no troubles on any side--we would miss out on learning firsthand just what kind of God we serve. We would have no need for a dependency on God, and we would wander through our vapor of a life without experiencing the joy that can only come from a sweet, intimate relationship with God.
Are troubles wanted?
No sir and no ma’am.
But know this: the trying and testing of your faith is not in vain. The struggles you experience in different seasons of your life are not without purpose. If you think about it, they can be some of your greatest blessings as they teach you to rely on God’s direction instead of your own ideas about what’s best. They can reveal aspects of God’s character and abilities that you would have otherwise glossed over. Don’t despair, but praise Him in advance! The healing, the deliverance, and the clarity you will get to experience either in this life or the next will be worth it.
I’m sure the children of Israel can tell you a thing or two about the sheer exuberance that will bubble up in a person after the Red Sea is parted and Goliath is defeated. James said it best when he penned, “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:3-4).