TOUGH TIMES DID NOT KILL ME!
These are tough times and there is no end in sight. Let me assure you, I have been where I wish no human should go; but the tough times did not kill me. I did turn to religion. I repented. I blamed myself. I wondered why God was angry with me. My health was ruined and so was my bright future. Into my life came people with a message of hope. It was dim, but enough not to kill myself. I got a hold of hope and hope does not disappoint (Ro.5: 5).
Several days ago, I shared with my lifetime friend, who lost his wife a year ago, that both of my sisters now have breast cancer. His encouraging words were, “God is faithful; He will not let us be tempted (suffer) beyond what we are able to bear. And with every hardship, He will also provide a way out so that we can endure it” (I Cor.10: 13). This is my version of the Apostle Paul’s understanding and it is, at least for me, closer to the Greek. Paul had the idea that God was testing people; but James, for instance, believed that “God could not be tempted, nor does He tempt anyone”(Ja.1: 13). Basically, what ever happens to us we or others contribute to each other’s misery and suffering (Ja.1: 14).
My parents lived into the nineties on sauerkraut. They did not swallow all the chemicals we do. They believed that what God had made was healthy and not what man concocts. My blood pressure count went up, 200/100 and my physician prescribed some new pills and with it came a lengthy warning of what could happen. Imagine how that impacted my already worried mind? When I became a bit dizzy, I perceived that the angel of death was parking his chariot outside our door. Of course, I knew better. My time is unknown to me; nevertheless, I still have a mission to my readers and that is, “God does not abandon us, even if we do at times” (Mt.28: 20). It is not God that puts us through the mill but his enemy (Job.1: 9: Lk.13: 16).
What proof do we have that God can be part of our troubles? He extended a personal invitation to His followers: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Mt.11: 28-30). Cancer did demoralize me, and I began to fight the disease. That weakened me and I was losing the battle. I turned to Ephesians 1:4, and learned that God was aware of me and He would decide what happens to me. I found peace in my mind and my PSA fell from 129 to the nineties before I had any treatments. After 30 radiations and treatments, the Oncologist informed us that I could not be cured because my cancer was microscopic and all over the body. That was 15 years ago. I had to let the Lord cure my mind before anyone could cure my body.
We do not worship a God that cannot communicate with us in our human suffering. He did not send His Son to us in an angelic or ghostly form but in a real human being. Jesus went through much worse than we do. This is how one witness described our Savior. “For, we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but we have one who was tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb.4: 15-16). “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Heb.2: 18).
Briefly four things give me hope. Jesus knows exactly what we are enduring because He too went through the process that demises all of us. The word “tempted” also stands for testing or suffering, but not for dying. Toughness cannot kill us, unless we commit suicide. The reference to “without sin” means that Jesus did not yield to the forces that kill. He resisted the devil and so can we (Ja.4: 7). And He stands by ready to assist us in our battle of staying alive. We are not orphans because He promised to be with us (Jn.14: 18). Nothing can separate us from our Lord and Savior (Ro.8: 35).
Tough times cannot kill us because He who is in us is greater than the one that is doing everything to hurt us (I Jn.4: 4).