Just over thirteen years ago I got a phone call that changed my life. It was my wife. We had been in the hospital for a couple months with our ten week premature baby. He had a bad kidney, filled with cysts, that needed to be removed. That day began as a hopeful day. The day prior his bad kidney was removed. We were supposed to be getting discharged from the hospital. We were finally going home.
I left the hospital that morning to go to work. We were bringing our first child home and I felt the responsibility of providing financially for my family. I was interning at a church, going to school, and installing satellites. I had an installation scheduled for that morning and anticipated getting back to help pack and go home. That would not be the case.
My cell phone rang just before I arrived at the installation. I answered to hear my wife telling me frantically that I needed to get back as quickly as I could. She said something about a team of doctors and nursers doing ultrasounds and coming in and out of the room. I was scared. I started crying, not even knowing what might be wrong. I felt helpless.
I raced back to the hospital and prayed the entire way there. Shortly after I arrived, the surgeon who performed the surgery came into the room with me and my wife. He told us, “We accidentally took his good kidney along with his bad kidney.” With those words my heart sank into the pit of stomach. I did not hear anything else he was saying. We began to sob.
Things Can Change Quickly
Everything in life can change in a moment. A phone call, a knock at the door, a doctor’s visit, and many other things can flip our world upside. We know trials and tribulations can come out of nowhere, we just don’t expect them to come to us. As Christians, we often believe we are exempt from these things. If we don’t believe this intellectually, we often live like it practically.
In Daniel 1, we see everything change in a moment for the nation of Israel. Israel was God’s own people. He called them to Himself and built them as a nation. They had experienced victory over more powerful nations. He had blessed them and protected them from their enemies. But now, everything changed. The Babylonian Empire, led by King Nebuchadnezzar, stormed in and defeated them. They not only defeated the Israelites, they took the best and brightest captive and shipped them to Babylon.
Imagine being one of these young men or women. You grew up hearing and reading of all the feats of your God. You know you are His people. You know He can give you victory over any foe. In addition to this, you have your own dreams and plans in life. You have desires to raise a family, have a trade, and live in the land the Lord gave to your people. But now, everything has changed. Your nation has been crushed. You and your family are being separated, forever. Loved ones have died from the onslaught. You are being shipped away to Babylon, forced to learn a new language, new customs, and new culture. Life has changed.
Throughout Scripture we see these life-changing moments occur in people’s lives. Trials and tribulations are not marked off for only the rebellious and wicked. No, godly people throughout Scripture experienced pain and suffering. So how are we to think about these life-changing moments? Here are three important foundation stones to stand on when these moments come.
1. The Lord is over every trial.
God is not watching passively as the world unfolds. He is the sovereign ruler over it. Jesus has all power and authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18), nothing is taking place outside of His will. He is upholding the universe by the Word of His power (Hebrews 1:3). This should comfort us for multiple reasons. First, God is all wise and would not allow anything in our lives that was not ultimately for our good (Romans 8:28). Second, God loves us. We belong to Him. Because He loves us, we can rest assure that all trials that come into our lives are not without purpose. There is no senseless suffering for the child of God.
2. Trials and tribulations are not always punitive.
In Daniel 1, the Lord has allowed the Babylonians to conquer Israel because of Israel’s disobedience. Sometimes our trials can be because of our sin and rebellion. The trials can be self-induced consequences for our actions or sent by God to bring us to repentance. But not every trial God brings is disciplinary. We see examples throughout Scripture of God using trials and tribulations as a vehicle to bring His will to pass. Joseph endured a series of trials over the years even though he was filled with integrity. But God’s ultimate purpose was to spare His people famine by getting Joseph to the right hand of the Pharaoh in Egypt. The Israelites were in Egyptian captivity for hundreds of years. But during this time, the nation that once only numbered seventy (Genesis 46:27) multiplied into a nation in the millions (Exodus 12:37). God fulfilled His promise to build them into a great nation – through suffering. Trials do not always equal discipline.
3. We must learn to trust God through our pains
Proverbs 3:5-7 — “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.”
Resource on this topic:
Bitter Providences sermon series
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