Over the past few weeks, we have had the privilege of hearing from a few different people some of the stories from their lives and specifically the ways they have seen God working in various circumstances throughout their lives. Oftentimes, as events happen we see them only for what they are, but occasionally God gives us a small glimpse at the bigger picture of what He is doing in our lives.
One young man shared with us about his childhood living in the northern part of Uganda during the time of Kony, about the fear his family experienced and the constant traveling as they tried to find a safe place to stay. He shared about the abuse he experienced from his step-mother and step-brother and his father's neglect of his family. So much of his story could have led him to despair and anger, but as a young man looking back on his childhood, he could clearly see God's hand and His grace throughout it all. He told about certain strangers or even family members who brought food to them or cared for them even when they did not have any obligation to do so. He told about God's voice speaking to him through his mother to turn away from sin and back to the Lord, and God's gentle prodding in his heart to forgive the ones who hurt him.
A young woman we are close to shared with us her story of how God began calling her into a personal relationship with Him through some difficult circumstances in her life. She found herself in an abusive relationship, pregnant and unable to continue her schooling, and without hope for her future. But there just so happened to be a Bible in the place she was staying, and she continually felt drawn to reading it. That began a hunger within her for God and His Word that continues to this day, and she can look back on that difficult time and see God's hand working and shaping her life even when she thought all was lost.
This week in our women's Bible study we were reading and discussing about the fall and sin's effects on us as men and women. We talked about the brokenness in our relationships with God and with people around us because of sin, and we looked at how our world is broken and filled with pain and suffering because of the consequences of sin. After looking at all of this brokenness, I almost wanted to throw up my hands and say, "I give up! Is there any hope at all?!"
But praise the Lord that even in the midst of curses and consequences, He gave grace in allowing life to continue and He gave hope of the eventual defeat of Satan, sin, and death through our Savior, Jesus Christ. No matter how bleak the day or how overwhelming the circumstances I may find myself in, I can take comfort in the saving work of Christ on the cross and have hope in His promised return. We may not see the good of the suffering just now, but we can have hope that these sufferings will be nothing compared to the glory of the future. Besides, "what can separate us from the love of Christ?" (Rom. 8:35-39)
I hope and pray that as you celebrate Easter that you will be able to have joy in the gift of life that God gives us through Jesus and the hope that He brings even in the midst of suffering. May we all be like this young man and young woman who can praise God even for the hard times in their lives because they have put their faith in Jesus and have experienced the gift of eternal life.