News of a triple tragedy in the lives of longtime friends sent me to the telephone to assure them of our concern and prayers. Their daughter, Carol, had died, the victim of a brain aneurism, a son-in-law had suffered a serious head injury in an automobile accident that required him to be placed in a nursing home and a newborn grandchild had undergone surgery for a malignant brain tumor. All of these unthinkable trials followed the death of another much loved son-in-law only a year earlier at the end of a courageous but losing battle with cancer.
My call found these wounded ones incredibly positive, choosing to give thanks for God’s love rather than focusing on their losses. Their grief was real. But so was their confidence in the Comforter. Even their expressions of concern over the condition of the injured son-in-law and the newborn having to undergo brain surgery were tempered by faith. Nor was there was evidence of anger at God. During this trying time, they had found the One they trust sufficient for every emotional and spiritual need.
Through centuries of trials and persecutions, believers have discovered their Lord to always be up to the occasion. The apostle, Paul, no stranger to sufferings himself, wrote: “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken, cast down but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).
What encouraging words for all who are passing through storms!
Most of us have known people who were serene when everything seemed to be crashing down around them. In the most trying of circumstances, they have remained trusting and unshaken. Those going to comfort them often come away comforted. They have been living examples of the peace of God, no matter the circumstances.
When preparing His disciples for the most severe trial of their lives, our Lord told them there was no need to have troubled hearts: “You believe in God, believe also in Me,” He said (John 14:1). His advice must have seemed impossible to put into practice at the time, but after the unthinkable had happened at the cross, these people of faith recovered from their despair and set out to spread the message of God’s love as they had been instructed to do. We’re still benefiting from their obedient efforts and the unexplainable strength they found at the time of their greatest weakness, the time when their hearts were so troubled they would have found it easy to give up.
In his widely read book, “Secrets of the Spirit,” Ray Stedman says at a time when he was experiencing deep distress he thought of the words given to the disciples by their departing Lord and they took on new significance. He discovered the way to find comfort when unthinkable things happen is to “believe in God, who is still in control, who knows what He is doing, who is capable of exercising infinite wisdom, infinite power, and infinite love.”
How do you react when trouble comes? Do you become pessimistic? Depressed? Angry with God? Unpleasant to be around because you lash out at others?
Trust God to bring you safely through these tough times.
You’ll be unsinkable, even during unthinkable storms.
Roger Campbell is an author, a broadcaster and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org