“No affliction would trouble a child of God,” wrote G. Campbell Morgan, “if he knew God’s reason for sending it.” But, of course, that is the difficult part why does God allow some things to happen? “Take it by faith!” people say, but to take by faith the rest of your life in a wheelchair is no easy matter, especially if you are a young man or woman with the rest of your life before you. In July 1967, a young woman, who was then 17 years of age, dived into the water not realizing how shallow it was.
Joni Eareckson Tada has come to be known and loved by thousands of people around the world since that day when she sustained a broken neck, an accident that left her confined to a wheelchair as a quadriplegic for the rest of her life. At the time, Joni was an energetic, athletic teenager with a real zest for living. That she might spend her life fighting physical disabilities never occurred to her until that fateful day that changed the course of her life.
Instead of producing a bitter, angry person full of resentment and hatred towards God, who allowed the ordeal, Joni has matured and grown into a beautiful woman who has depth that would never have been possible had she not faced the confinement to a wheelchair. Says Joni, “Today as I look back, I am convinced that the whole ordeal of my paralysis was inspired by God’s love. I was not the brunt of some cruel divine joke. God has reasons behind my suffering, and learning some of them has made all the difference in the world.”
This woman discovered that being a Christian did not immunize her from facing the problem of suffering. Neither did it insure that she would never face agonizing bouts with depression, discouragement and, at times, even defeat. But it did give her a hope and a confidence that God is still God and His ways are beyond questioning.
The German philosopher Frederick Neitzsche said, “A man can endure any how if he knows any why.” Yet when it came to putting his philosophy to work for himself, Neitzsche was a gross failure. As an atheist, he left God totally out of his framework of understanding, and without God there is no way suffering can fit into the fabric of life. And without hope and trust in God’s wise providence, Frederick Neitzsche so deteriorated mentally that he spent the last years of his life in an insane asylum. Why does God allow suffering? To punish us, or to allow us to sense His power and presence? To purge the dross from our lives leaving the pure silver, or to persecute us because of our mistakes and failures?
Centuries ago David wrote, “Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now have I kept Thy word…it is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn Thy statutes” (Psalm 119:67, KJV). There are times when God allows us to sense something of His purpose in letting His children suffer, and, of course, that brings great satisfaction to the heart, but there are other times when the problem of pain must be resolved alone through faith in the wise providence of God.
A closing thought. You can trust God to be God. You can hope in His promises as David wrote. You can rest in the positive assurance that when we see Christ we shall know and understand as He does, and the weary questions will find answers. Right now, you may be confronted with a situation such as I have described, or you may be wrestling with a problem that worries you. Trust Him, for Jesus said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
Resource Reading: Psalm 46
Text: Don’t be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with what you have. since God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you.” Hebrews 13:5, The Message.
GUIDELINES with Harold Sala – August 23, 2017