Most of us avoid pain. We keep our medicine cabinets loaded with pain relievers. We couldn't imagine major surgery without an anesthetic. We are so averse to pain that we think God must desire that we will experience pain-free lives. After all, a loving God surely wouldn't want us to suffer pain, would He? Although God takes no pleasure in our pain, we have to acknowledge that He sometimes allows painful circumstances to occur in our lives in order to shape us and make us more like Christ. Sometimes our times of despair turn out to be a much needed light into our soul.
I once came across the following poem written by an anonymous Confederate soldier, a devout young man who fought in the American Civil War. The lines of this poem express the soul of a man who has learned to view his times of adversity from a different perspective:
I asked God for strength, that I might achieve;
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked God for health, that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.
I asked for riches, that I might be happy;
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life;
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for but everything I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am among men, most richly blessed.
Do we trust God to lead us even though we can't see the pathway in front of us? Do we trust Him to be all-knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful? Do we believe He does all things well?
As Paul wrote, "Everything that does not come from faith is sin" (Rom. 14:23). That's why God leads us through the dark places.
Only in the darkness do we learn to walk by faith.
[By Os Hillman]