“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me;
yet not my will, but yours be done.”
Luke 22:42 (NIV)
A popular mindset in the Christian community is that all sickness, all trials can be dismissed through the “prayer of faith”. While I find that idea very appealing—especially in my own times of suffering—I cannot subscribe to it.
As you look at the great leaders in the Christian Church through the centuries, you find that their personal lives usually had great sorrow. Outstanding men like C.H. Spurgeon and Martin Luther had various health issues that made pain their traveling companion. Spurgeon suffered from very painful gout, and his depression episodes required him to escape to France several times so his spirits could be lifted. Luther suffered from such things as kidney stones, headaches, and incapacitating constipation.
God rarely uses a person greatly without causing them great sorrow. Trials tend to remove pride from our hearts. Trials not only purify us but they bring us to the Lord confessing how inadequate we are and how much we need Him.
When you look at the life of King David—recorded in 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel—you see a striking difference in his spirituality. In 1 Samuel David is on the run ahead of Saul—who wanted to pursue him and kill him. David shows remarkable spiritual strength under the load of suffering. When you turn to 2 Samuel—David is on the throne, rich and powerful, and it was then that his personal life fell apart.
We need to use trials to sharpen our focus on eternity and get away from staring at this troubled and temporary world. Remember that the best life is not necessarily the happiest. Our Lord suffered various indignities that culminated in the cross. In Gethsemane He wrestled in prayer until He gave Himself wholly to the work of dying for sinners.
In trials, pray for relief. Ask the Lord to lift the burden and give you rest. If He delivers you from the pain and sorrow, rejoice in His kindness. If the trial remains, be sure that good will come from it. Look at Jesus and see how great were His suffering and consider how much blessing came from His sorrow.
Jesus and Paul cried 3 times for relief from their suffering and it did not come. Their faith was strong so we cannot fault them. God has His reasons for our difficulties in life and we need to trust Him and pursue our calling.
Remember that the best life is not always the happiest life but be certain that it glorifies God and that should satisfy us until we see the Lord face to face.