March 2019   
Bible Search


            Every now and then I will look back at old newsletter articles to see what I have written on, and I’ll see one that strikes me as worth repeating.  This is such the case this month.  In Pastor Daniel Preus’ book “Why I Am a Lutheran” he recalls this story:

 “I was working on an iron ore boat for U.S. Steel.  I was 18 and just out of high school.  A few weeks after I began work, I was sitting in the galley when Joe, one of the deckhands, entered.  An ex-convict with a reputation, Joe was drunk, mad, and looking for a fight. When he saw me, Joe insulted me, my mother, my father, my brothers and sisters, my looks, my abilities, and anything else he thought might get a rise out of me.  When I did not take the bait he began to insult Christianity.  When I continued to remain silent, Joe specifically attacked my hope in Christ and concluded by saying, ‘Preacher, when you die, you’re goin’ to the same place I’m goin’ and everybody else is goin’ – six feet under and that’s where you’re gonna stay!’

When it was apparent Joe was done, I said, ‘Joe, sometime when you’re sober, I would be happy to talk to you about any of the things that are on your mind.’  Joe looked at me, turned around, and walked out of the galley.

Joe and I never talked, but the chief cook, who had witnessed the event, took me aside and said, ‘It took me forty years to learn to do what you just did.  Anytime you want to talk to me, I will be happy to listen.’  The cook and I talked frequently after that.”

As you well know, being a Christian does not make you immune to suffering in this fallen world.  Indeed, not only are Christians afflicted like everyone else with sickness, heartache, financial struggles, broken relationships, constant physical or emotional pain, anger, bitterness, stress, death, etc. but also are afflicted with sin.  We struggle daily with sin and the guilt it brings (sins that the world revels in).  On top of that we can be persecuted for the faith, as Pastor Preus was above. 

And when we are afflicted, “why” is the usually the first word from our lips.  And we are in good company when we utter that question.  David. Job.  Moses.  Paul. 

And we certainly are not always privileged to know exactly “why”.  Oh we will of course be tempted by the devil to doubt God’s love and care for us during those tough times.  Quick will the questions come from the evil one, and even the world around us, asking: “Where is Jesus in your suffering?”  “He promised to help you, where is He now?”   “Why?” 

Throughout any and all suffering that each of us endure, we are to always, always, always be assured of the love of God for us.  We are never to doubt His care or motives.   He always is seeing to our eternal welfare as well as those around us.  The Cross shows us the extent of His Love.

Yes, sometimes the suffering is intended to shape you and strengthen your trust in His promises.  But sometimes, it’s not about you at all.  Though I have mentioned this thought before, it bears repeating.  Sometimes your struggles and trials, persecutions and sorrows are about those around you.  In the story above, the attack and persecution Preus faced was in fact used by God to open a door to the chief cook.  As people observe your life and how you respond and live under trial and affliction, God is able to open doors to touch their lives with His Gospel. 

Let me close with another story by Pastor Preus:

            “Betty …suffered from diabetes.  The disease had claimed her eyesight, and both legs had been amputated above the knees.  Her husband had abandoned her, and her only son, with whom she lived was on drugs.  During one visit, Betty asked why God allowed her to live. ‘What good am I, Pastor?’ she asked.  ‘I can’t help anybody.  My life has no purpose.  Why doesn’t God just take me?  Why does He make me live like this?’  ‘Betty, every Sunday you are in church, and every time we have Communion, your neighbor Lloyd wheels you to the front of the church to receive the Sacrament.  Do you know how your example strengthens them?  They know your trials and your troubles, yet they see you continuing in the faith, week after week, always trusting in the lord, like Job.  Do you know how many of them are praying, ‘Dear God, give me a faith like Betty’s?’  What I told Betty was true.  God used her to strengthen the faith of others.  God always has a purpose in the crosses He places on us.”




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