As I watched the news coverage of the recent tornadoes and prayed, I remembered the tornado my family and I endured several years ago. It, too, was a Wednesday evening and we were on our way to church when we topped a hill and saw a tornado bearing down on us less than a quarter mile away.
We were richly blessed that night, and I thank God on a regular basis. I don’t know why we were spared and others are not, but I have had a good deal of time to reflect and reaffirm some of God’s truths.
- We do have the avenue of prayer and it is a great comfort in times of trial. God does hear those prayers. God called Job a righteous man, and yet he complained to God. Job 7:11 reads “Therefore I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.” Are you close enough to God to be able to not only praise him, but to complain when you feel hurt or neglected?
- God does not promise we won’t have trials. Historically we see Christians suffered many persecutions. God did promise He would be with us. We don’t know God’s ways or His purpose, but we do know He loves us. In 1 Corinthians 10:13 God promises we won’t be given more than we can bear. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” Later in life, when I faced trials, I couldn’t help feeling highly complimented. Somehow, even as I struggled to cope, it felt good to realize God thought I could handle things. If an all-knowing God thinks I can handle tough times, who am I to argue with Him?
- We are not alone. Brothers and sisters love one another, and they want to help. Christians take Galatians 5:13 seriously. “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” Don’t let pride keep you from accepting whatever help is offered.
- Learn from others. In 1 Timothy 4:12 Timothy was told to be an example. “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” Until I observed someone else’s act of service it had never occurred to me that a grieving family needed breakfast foods as well as main meal dishes. Observe, learn and follow good examples.
- Self-pity makes a lonely companion. It may take a long time to see any real progress, but what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Proverbs 27:17 says “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” Brothers and sisters in trial don’t need platitudes. They need physical help. Be willing to pitch in wherever you can.
- Be thankful for what you still have. Sometimes we become so overwhelmed by what we do not have, we can’t see what we do have. God still loves us, and He is still there. For those who have lost everything, including family members, all these things often become “too heavy to bear” for a time. The Bible says there is a time to mourn.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 says, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” Allow yourself that time to adjust, but realize God isn’t finished with you yet. It is up to you to find new routines and new purpose to your life. Only you can unravel your physical and emotional healing process and decipher God’s purpose for you. James 5:10 says “Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.”
Keep foremost in your mind that even if a trial kills us, if we are faithful, God has promised an eternal home with Him. In John 14:2 Jesus said “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” At the end of the battle we win!
By Wilburta Arrowood
Wilburta Arrowood is a member of the Liberty, MO church of Christ where her husband serves as an elder. She teaches women’s classes and speaks at ladies’ days and is the author of two Christian fiction novels. Her latest project was preparing a series of Power Point lessons for the wives of the preacher students at the preacher’s school in Ghana, Africa. Learn more about Wilburta, her writing and more at her site: http://www.wilburtaarrowood.com/