Satisfying the Hunger... is a blog written by the ministry staff of Evangelism & Church Growth
I have come slowly to a new and neat friendship. I say slowly because I really don’t want to crowd folks but I do enjoy learning what’s unique about them. I then write a mental story based on what I think I see and hear. The story doesn’t actually have to be true, and frankly it rarely is.
Here’s the story I wrote. My friend dresses like an athlete and he’s fit, so maybe he’s a runner. There was no lunch bag so eating out every day isn’t a problem, and that could mean well-educated and making a fairly good living. Eating out can also mean few leftovers from the evening before so it’s unlikely there are kids and the challenges that come from parenting. There’s no wedding band, so that means single and independent. The more I wrote the more I liked my story about this almost real person.
After I got to know the real person though, I learned that only a couple of my shallow observations were even close to reality, but I had completely failed to see much of what really mattered.
I remember so vividly the moment I truly met the real friend I had made. I heard him say “I guess God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.” It was crystal clear from the tone in his voice and the pain in his eyes, that he was having a hard time believing that could possibly be true.
You see, my friend is hurting. His parents are deceased. A life-long friend recently died. His siblings live hundreds of miles away. He’s passing through a job in which there is little support and appreciation for his contributions. Money is tight, (leftovers were in the backpack). He’s is in a relationship and has two young kids from different marriages. One child is going through anger management counseling. One spouse is very supportive and the other is equally destructive. He’s struggling most days to make sense out of these hard times.
So much for my powers of observation and piercing ability to sense the essence of another!
Who among us can handle any and everything that life throws at us? Not many and certainly not me. Where in the Bible does it say that God created the misery that we have to handle? Fortunately for all that saying isn’t in the Bible though many believe it is. It’s actually 1 Corinthians 10:13 being misquoted. “… God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength…” It teaches about temptation, but not tragedy. We were never promised that life would be easy, and if you pay attention at all to the world around us, you know at times it can be almost unbearable.
I don’t think I can share what I believe any better than Alan Paton did in Cry, The Beloved Country. “I have learned that kindness and love can pay for pain and suffering.” and “I have never thought that a Christian would be free of suffering, umfundisi (Zulu for pastor). For our Lord suffered. And I have come to believe that he suffered, not to save us from suffering, but to teach us how to bear suffering.”
When trouble strikes, we must remember to draw closer to God; that God has compassion and knows we’re hurting; that God hasn’t forsaken us; and that God isn’t the author of our problems. We must set our pride aside and draw closer to each other, share our burdens, and ask for help and prayers. We must remember that our challenges can help teach us in turn to be a helpful blessing to others who may be facing similar problems. Finally, remember that strong people are overwhelmed by tragedy every day and when self-reliance is done with, this is when God’s grace will be there to support us no matter what may come.