Dr. R.T. Kendall calls it the “Betrayal Barrier,” where a person who decides to serve God finds that becoming a Christian is no guarantee that life will be trouble free. The truth is that life was never easy for God’s people.
There is a certain theology espoused on TV called “Prosperity Theology,” sometimes termed “Name it, Claim it Theology.” The idea seems to be that God will skip along in front of us with a great cosmic broom to sweep away all obstacles from our path.
So, is God our personal errand boy who will chase all the assignments we dole out to him? Is he a genie in the bottle who pops out at our whim, and obeys our every demand?
Scripture frequently records troubling events experienced by God’s followers. Soon after his challenge to Pharaoh to let his people go, Moses heard the Israelites complaining that their lot had not improved. Even Moses was discouraged, pointing out to God that he had made Israel “stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in his hand to kill us.” Moses complained further, “and you have not delivered your people at all!'” (Exodus 5:21-23).
It seemed things were going along as well as could be expected, then God insisted on stirring up Pharaoh and their task masters!
Whenever there is trouble for God’s people, be sure that Satan has a hand in it: Satan is, after all, a deceiver (John 8:44). It is not without cause that we are warned to be “sober-minded,” and “watchful.” Our “adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
It is Satan’s specific purpose to discourage us and distort the truth. And he can usually be expected to show up at the moment of greatest discouragement, whispering his wicked thoughts and taunting the wounded believer.
C.S. Lewis, in the movie “Shadowlands,” watched as his wife died of cancer. This film shows how easy it is to talk of God’s great plan, his love, and purpose (something he did often before her death), and how difficult it is to live this faith in reality. Yet if the Gospel Preacher does not offer some comfort from God, my friends, where will the comfort come from?
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,” we are told, “and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5,6).
Which is not to say that we should not seek answers or try to understand everything. Instead, seek God’s will in prayer and through Scripture. But be aware that we might not understand everything. The phrase “lean not on your own understanding” refers to the panicky demand for answers pressing God to explain – right now! We simply have too few facts to explain everything that has happened.
Christians are not promised easy street; we received no inoculation against setbacks and troubles, heartbreak and disillusionment. We are promised a God who cares and who will guide us. That should be more than enough.