Why Does God Allow Hard Times in Our Lives Part I

WHY DOES GOD ALLOW HARD TIMES IN OUR LIVES?

 The second section of this topic on “hard times” will deal with the imprisonment of Paul and Silas and the overwhelming odds that faced God’s people in the glorious chapter of 2 Chronicles 20. First, however, to prove that God still lives in the here and now – as if we needed proof ! – and to demonstrate that today’s Godly dealings are just as dramatic as in the days of old, I am going to share with you the occurrences of the last few weeks in the Wilhelm household which has led to one mighty testimony after another of the love, tenderness, care and glory of God in the midst of one hard time after another all “scrunched” together one week after another. However, before I present you with this praise-worthy account, I am going to refresh your memories with a song we learned a few weeks ago:

Blessed Be Your Name  In the land that is plentiful

Where Your streams of abundance flow Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name    When I’m found in the desert place

Though I walk through the wilderness     Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out,    I’ll turn back to praise

When the darkness closes in, Lord.    Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord.    Blessed be Your name

Blessed be the name of the Lord.    Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name.     When the sun’s shining down on me

When the world’s ‘all as it should be’.    Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name.    On the road marked with suffering

Though there’s pain in the offering      Blessed be Your name

 Every blessing You pour out I’ll      Turn back to praise

When the darkness closes in, Lord.    Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord.    Blessed be Your name

Blessed be the name of the Lord.    Blessed be Your glorious name, oh

Blessed be the name of the Lord.    Blessed be Your name

Blessed be the name of the Lord.    Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away.   You give and take away

My heart will choose to say.    Lord, blessed be Your name

http://www.metrolyrics.com/blessed-be-your-name-and-chords-matt-redman-ml-video-oxx.html

There’s a bit of a difference in the copy of the song this time: I highlighted the “hard times” and what is to be our reaction to them. The phrase “ Blessed be Your Name” occurs 21 times in the song. And now, onto the “drama.” It will read like a diary because that is the only way to keep track of the events that happened week after week.

A PERSONAL PRELUDE: A MEDICAL DRAMA

We’ve had a most interesting month to say the least. We thought we were going to see this new doctor —who my husband says reminds him of a big teddy bear —  for a brief “get-acquainted” visit. My husband’s regular cardiologist of 20 years had simply felt it was time to introduce my husband to the surgery department of one of the major cardiac hospitals for some future time when he might need their services. It was to be nothing more than that since John’s latest echocardiogram had checked out normal, normal for him anyway. Yet the strangest thing happened in the car. I have had a chronic headache for over three weeks and the sun was more than glaring, so I shut my eyes. I began to gently pray about our upcoming visit when, all of a sudden, this glorious symphony of praise began to resonant through every part of my being! It went on and on and on – and when it ceased, I sighed at its loss.  I wondered what it was because it was so different from anything I had ever known in its power and beauty. When we arrived at the doctor’s office and heard what he told us, understanding came.  Psalm 149: 1- 6 speaks of the high praises of God and this inner praise was the preparation for what we heard in the doctor’s office that could have so shaken us, but did not. My husband is the rock (Jesus is both our Rock) in our family, the one who never gets “shook up.” But that day, upon hearing the very unexpected news that he was going to have serious open heart surgery in six weeks,  my husband turned completely white and I, uncharacteristically, became the strong one. I knew that the “high praises” had made me steady enough to ask the questions, to pray with my husband, to tell our children this latest news. Jesus had started that intense symphony inside me that had given me strength.

How many times in the past, under different circumstances, when I was in great pain, had my husband said to me  “play your music.” Music shuts out the voice of fear and doubt and strengthens you. Paul and Silas learned it in prison. 2Chronicles 20 tells how praise won the victory over a massive enemy. 150 Psalms tell us to praise, so many of them describing situations of pain, depression, hardship, persecution. “ I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever, I will sing. With my mouth will I make known His faithfulness to all generations” Psalms 89:1). The Lord, in His mercy, knowing what was coming, filled my spirit with song.

…and the drama continues

As I related, two weeks ago we were very unexpectedly shocked to discover that my husband John’s ascending aortic aneurysm, which had remained stable for twelve years, had grown significantly in the past six months. Today was the day my husband went in for his CT Scan to find out how much worse the defects in his aorta and aortic valve are. This was to be the prelude to his major heart surgery. I woke up early and decided to see how much snow had fallen overnight  – but that wasn’t what I saw. I love birds. I had sprinkled some birdseed out on the patio 2 days ago after the last snow storm. I went to the French doors and was greeted with a HUGE flock of sparrows, juncos, a dove, a woodpecker, male cardinals and something I had never ever seen before – female cardinals – three of them! It was like watching a feast!! So many birds! So many! They even came up to the door, almost at my feet!! And across the yard was the fattest squirrel I’d  ever seen – he was so cute! I decided to call him Gus- Gus from Cinderella. The joy inside me was beyond words – I had tears coming down my face. How like the Lord to start a day like today with such tenderness and joy and special love💗💗💗. Next Thursday we will find out the results of the CT Scan, but look at the beginning – look at the tender loving care of Who walks with us. We’ll be just fine.

…next, the “simple formality” that wasn’t simple

We went in for what was to be a simple, uneventful formality before the surgery that was to occur in mid-March. But there was nothing at all uneventful about this “formality” as it turned out! In addition to the aortic valve replacement and aorta problem itself wherein part of John’s aorta will be removed and replaced with a polyester graft, they found a lesion on one of his arteries which they will also repair during his open heart surgery. This was quite unexpected since his heart surgeon  had said that the great majority of people who have aneurysms rarely also have heart disease. Hooray!🙃🙂 we are now in that rare AAA club – ascending aortic aneurysm, aortic valve and an artery 60% blocked that no one suspected! Yet, how faithful of the Lord to uncover this!🙂. The peace the Lord is giving us through all this is truly wonderful.😘(that kiss is for Him).

…the next week…

The following is so wonderful I just had to share it with you all.🙂 The Lord made this a very special day just for John. Our Sunday School class centered completely on the miracles of Jesus, even more specifically on the passages in Matthew 8:23-27 and John 6:16-21 wherein the disciples were going through life-threatening storms unlike anything they had ever encountered before – and many of these men were seasoned fishermen – and Jesus miraculously delivered them.  Three-quarters of the way through the lesson I turned to John and said: “Do you get the impression that this whole lesson is for you today?” And then we went to service. The third song started “Lord I give you my heart” and John tapped me on the shoulder asking “did you hear that?” He was all choked up – a very rare occurrence for him. Then Pastor started his sermon and said, incredibly: “open your heart to His healing.” All these beautiful words from the Word of God Himself. So much love! Such a wondrous God!

…and on we go…

The day after the above we finally got a diagnosis as to why I have had a severe headache for the last five weeks. I have a staph-type infection called MRSA in my sinuses. When I sent out prayer requests to my “inner circle,” the first two responses I received said it all: “Hooray, finally we know what it is, this is great. It is treatable.” The other response said: “MRSA is dangerous.” So I will be on steroids and sulfur drugs for a month and then be re-checked.

Looking at all that has transpired (remember I warned you that I have a dry sense of humor) it would seem to be ample material for a soap opera, wouldn’t it? Look at all the surprises and the plot twists! Wow – it has to be good for at least one box of tissues! However, the Bible exhorts me to turn it into something much better – a musical! Therefore, throughout these events we have praised the Lord and thanked Him with joy for bringing all this out in the open. We keep talking about what a great testimony all this will be. Lest you think I’ve gone off the deep end, I’m going to present you with powerful Biblical and historical proof for praising during the hard — really hard — times.

Before I go on, I feel I need to make some comments so that I am not misunderstood or seen as unfeeling to any of you. I knew from the beginning of this entire blog series how important this topic was for one essential reason: so many of us suffer.  Because of that we desperately need to not only know the Biblical basis for that suffering so that we may act as James 1 encourages us to act —to count it all joy — but to also act wisely in our suffering. Most of the studying and writing for this series started decades ago. It was necessary for my family and me to understand the intricacies of trials, diseases and healing because of what we have encountered in our lives. You have heard me speak of the two four-year Chronic Lyme Disease cases in my family, but there are other adventures we have had. I have come close to death twice. I also wear an implanted pain pump to take the place of 32mg. of pain pills that I took daily for many years. My daughter lives in constant pain from nerve damage after surgery. As you will learn in greater detail my beloved son-in-law has had two open-heart surgeries himself. During the most recent one, he coded [or flat-lined] twice. Before he and our daughter married he too came close to death because of a blood infection in his heart called bacterial endocarditis. You will read about that too. Why am I sharing these stories with you? Very simply to extol the wonderful love, faithfulness, mercy and power of Almighty God. We have used all these stories as testimonies of a God Who is truly alive and loves His children.

AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO THINKS THIS WAY? APPARENTLY NOT

Malcolm Muggeridge, a Christian writer, said this: “Contrary to what might be expected, I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful with particular satisfaction. Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in my 75 years in this world, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my experience, has been through affliction and not through happiness.” https://sermons.faithlife.com/sermons/118215-muggeridge-on-suffering

Charles Spurgeon agrees: ““I bear my witness that the worst days I have ever had have turned out to be my best days. And when God has seemed most cruel to me he has then been most kind. If there is anything in this world for which I would bless him more than for anything else it is for pain and affliction. I am sure that in these things the richest tenderest love has been manifested to me. Our Father’s wagons rumble most heavily when they are bringing us the richest freight of the bullion of his grace. Love letters from heaven are often sent in black-edged envelopes. The cloud that is black with horror is big with mercy. Fear not the storm. It brings healing in its wings and when Jesus is with you in the vessel the tempest only hastens the ship to its desired haven.”

“No stars gleam as brightly as those which glisten in the polar sky. No water tastes so sweet as that which springs amid the desert sand. And no faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs through adversity. Tested faith brings experience. You would never have believed your own weakness had you not needed to pass through trials. And you would never have known God’s strength had His strength not been needed to carry you through.” https://www.cross-points.org/100-best-charles-spurgeon-quotes/

Yet as much as we acknowledge with our minds the authenticity of these words, it is possible that the next true story will be the one that will most touch your heart.

IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL

Horatio Spafford, his wife and four daughters after having lost virtually everything they owned in the great Chicago Fire, decided to move to France. Horatio sent his wife and daughters ahead on a huge ship planning to join them about a month later. The ship was struck by another vessel and sank, the four daughters with it. Horatio left Chicago to go to France to bring his wife home. The captain of his ship came to tell him of  the spot where his daughters had perished. At that place, Horatio Spafford wrote these words, giver of peace and comfort to so many:

   When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, it is well, it is well, with my soul.

Thou has taught me to say – May we always go to Him, whatever our lot, that He May teach us to say that it is well with our souls because Jesus is with us.

Image works cited:

https://www.redbubble.com/people/jandsgraphics/works/29431126-it-is-well-with-my-soul-watercolor-floral?p=poster