One Friday I had lunch with a friend that I had not seen for a number of years. We had the chance to catch up on how our families were doing. He told me that his wife had spent two years dealing with a serious illness. With a sigh of relief he said, “My wife is doing well today.” He too had been thru a personal battle with a serious illness for the past two years. My friend looked me in my eyes and said, “I would rather not have gone thru that very tough and troubling time.” He told me that the troubles that he and his wife had gone thru were awful painful and distressing. He said, “I am not sure why the Lord allowed my wife and I to go thru such painful and troubling times.” Having fought cancer twice in my life, I told him that the difficult times of sickness in my life have made me stronger. Then he said, “yea, I know, but looks to me like there has to be an easier way for God to make us stronger. We both laughed.

I believe with the Corona Virus Pandemic we are all asking ourselves “Why?” Things were going so smoothly. Many are committed to reading the Bible. However, there is something about pain in our lives that moves us in the direction God wants us to go. Closer to Jesus.

Jesus speaking to his disciples said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have troubles. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV) No one on this earth goes thru life without some pain. Those who have left this earth went thru some pain. Our problems are often very painful, but there is Hope in Christ Jesus. Our troubles help us to grow and become mature Christians. David said “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” (Psalms 34:18 NLT ) Sometimes in our darkest days we are driven to worship God more intimately. Usually, this happens when we have no one else to turn to but God.

God could have kept Joseph’s brothers from betraying him. Why did God allow Daniel to go thru the trauma of wild animals? God could have kept Paul from being shipwrecked three times. Why did God put the three Hebrew boys thru their trial by fire? God had his purpose for them all. These Bible characters were all drawn closer to God.

The Apostle Paul said, “We do not want you to be uninformed brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we have received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9 NIV)

Many of us take great pride in our ability to make it on our own. I am self made, self sufficient, we say. The Corona Virus has stripped away our egos of not needing someones help. This pandemic has changed our attitudes. Now it is all hands on deck. All volunteers accepted. In the case of the apostle Paul and his companions, the troubles they experienced were a reminder that their dependence should be upon God. The one who has power to raise the dead. I hear so many Christians telling me, “God allowed this pandemic to happen.” Yes, God is still in control. We can trust God.

One of the most difficult scriptures in my study life is Romans 8:28. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” It would be great if this passage promised that all things would work out the way I wanted them to. Nor does this passage promise a happy, peaceful ending to our troubles. Only in heaven is there perfection. God is perfect. Heaven is perfect.

When God gave Noah the grand plan for building the ark, Noah followed the plan. Noah and his family were saved. God is the grand designer of our lives. We are the result of God’s choices. He even causes this earth to hang around for a while.

There’s not a thing in your life that God does not know about. Your failures, your sins, your hurts, your wants, and your dreams. Your illnesses, debt, disasters, divorce, and death of loved ones. The Lord can bring good out of all kinds of evil. Did not God bring good out of the evil at Calvary? God is good and full of goodness. He is merciful and loving. However, life is not always good. This world is filled with evil, but one of God’s specialties is bringing good out of it.

In the garden, Adam and Eve fell into the trap of the serpent. Was God’s plan destroyed because of this sin? Why of course not. Jesus would come to the earth to show us the goodness and mercy of God and to bring us salvation thru His death on the cross.

In the book of Acts, the Church in Jerusalem was established by the apostles. But a great persecution came on the church and the church was scattered. Did the apostles make a mistake? No! God’s plan scattered the church everywhere preaching the Gospel. (Acts 8:1-4 / Acts 11:19) Even in the pain of the church, God’s purpose is greater.

God wants to build Christ like character in us. Whenever we face troubles, it is an opportunity to allow God to build character in us. This character is spiritual in nature because God is involved. (Romans 5:3-4 ) (I Peter 1:7) “But even though he was God’s Son, he learned through his sufferings to be obedient. When he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him,” (Hebrews 5:8-9) GNT

Remember Church, God’s plan is good. Have you experienced the goodness of God? “For I know the plans I have for you, ” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV ) Remember in my last message to you, I spoke about the need for hope during these very troubling and painful times. The Lord offers hope to us.

Josephs, brothers sold him into slavery. When Joseph rose up into the ranks of Egypt, he became the keeper of Pharaohs’ house and all his land. Joseph’s power and influence were great. Joseph’s brothers had to travel to Egypt to gather food for the family. It was in Egypt where they were reunited with their brother Joseph. Sorrowful and full of dismay, his brothers became very remorseful. Joseph told his brothers, “You intended it to harm me, but God intended it for good.” (Genesis 50:20) Here is the goodness of God once again.

In times like these, our goal as Christians is to stay focused on God’s plan. We are going to have some pain and suffering. We are going to have some troubles and strained situations. We are going to have some disappointments. Stay focused on God. Use prayer as a source of Comfort in your life.