Perhaps you recognize the title of this post as part of the Gospel hymn “On the Wings of a Dove.” The entire verse is as follows:
When troubles beset us; When evils come
The body grows weak, and the spirit grows numb
When these beset us; well He doesn’t forget us
He sends down His love, on the wings of a dove.
I share this with you in the knowledge that many, many within our congregation have been beset with such troubles. There are many who are struggling with dealing with loved ones who are sick and dying. There are some who have lost spouses. There are some who are fighting illness themselves. There are some who are recovering from surgery. There are some who have had weird life circumstances cause stumbling and falling. One wonders why such things happen.
There is no perfect answer. Believe you me. If there was, I would write the book and sit back and enjoy the royalties. But I haven’t written that book because no answer is satisfactory. I can tell you a couple that are flat out wrong. Wrong answer number 1: “Jesus wants you to have victory over such matters.” One need be reminded, Jesus’ victory came on the cross–through suffering and persecution. The victory is won, no doubt, but not without a great cost. Wrong answer #2: If you just had enough faith, things would turn out right. Please, no one has enough faith. No one. This is why we are saved by sheer grace. We are dependent upon the mercy of God for all that we get. We don’t earn it by our faith. Wrong answer #3: God is causing this to test me. God knows you would fail. God knows we would all fail. Our human nature is weak. Furthermore, if you look at the life of Jesus, you will not see God testing Jesus (that would be a bit redundant). You will see the Enemy testing Jesus. It is the Enemy who tries to bring about our downfall by tests.
Which leads me to offer a few answers that I think help us grapple with trials and tribulations. Answer #1: When you are seeking to follow Jesus and the Gospel begins to take root in your heart, the Enemy works to steal you away. The Enemy sets up road blocks and trials to make you question your commitment to Jesus. Over and over again, we see this plainly in scripture. Answer #2: We cannot escape our choices. This is not a popular answer, but it is reality. It does not cover everything, but if you have lung cancer after smoking for 30 years, this is no surprise. One must make a distinction between things that we have some part in and things we don’t. Answer #3: I have no idea what-so-ever. This is the hardest one to accept because we want a reason. We want a clue as to why things are happening. Sometimes, there is just no good answer, and we must hope that God is in the midst of our trials and tribulations working to bring about a positive solution.
That last sentence is an important one because it demands trust in God. It demands that we have hope. It’s a hard thing to have at times, but it is central to our faith. The cross was the darkest day for the Christian, but it was followed by the light of the resurrection. Cross. Resurrection. Death. Life. God worked to bring hope from tragedy, and it is this that we hold onto desperately in the midst of our trials. May that hope find its way into your heart and mind. Amen.