I heard this moving story firsthand in the summer of 1983 at a large gathering of Christian believers.
The speaker was an internationally respected Bible teacher, and his audience consisted of Christians who believed in the goodness of God, who believed that He still healed and worked miracles today, who believed that He even promised supernatural protection to His children. After all, didn’t the Scriptures state that, “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them” (Psalm 34:7)?
That’s what made this whole story all the more profound. It violated the expected narrative.
Having related the divine call to minister internationally with his singing group, this Christian leader then described the group’s successful work in Africa, Europe, and especially behind the Iron Curtain. This was over a period of several years, up until the fall of 1982. Then while working in England, he was given a piece of unbelievable news: his precious wife had been killed in an automobile accident in the States, and now he was left a widower with three children.
Naturally, he was totally crushed by this report and returned home broken.
How could it be that he gave himself completely to the work of the Lord, only to have something like this happen in his family?
In his anguish, he went to see the most prominent faith teacher of the day who spoke these precious words to him: “Son, there are some things we just simply will never understand, and there are no answers for them.”
But, he added, “You can’t lose your grip in God.”
Yes, there are some things for which we have no answers, things that seem to make no sense, things that seem to “break the rules,” things that seem even to contradict the Scriptures. But whatever happens and however much disappointment we might endure, one thing is critical.
We cannot lose our grip in God. We cannot abandon Him.
“But,” you say, “that’s the whole problem. I thought I knew God. I thought I trusted Him. I thought I understood Him. But now I don’t know if anything is real – including Him. I feel like I’m grasping at straws.”
Yes, that is the essence of the problem, and I am not telling you to put your head in the sand or turn off your mind. Quite the contrary. What I’m saying is that the one thing that is constant, no matter what we experience and no matter how we feel, is that God exists and that He is good – eternally and unchangeably good.
On a purely intellectual level, the argument for God is very strong.
Science still cannot explain the origin of the universe or the fact that the universe runs with mathematical precision.
Science still cannot explain the origin of life, let alone the unique DNA coding that is imprinted on our cells at the moment of conception. (For the record, if you read your own DNA coding out loud at the rate of one letter per second, it would take you almost 100 years to read it all. Yet this coding is written on every single cell in your body – roughly 37 trillion of them!)
So, again, on a purely intellectual level, going through tragedy or loss or disappointment doesn’t change the reality of God’s existence.
But that is not the main point I want to make.
Instead, what I want to emphasize here is that the same God who gives us wonderful promises in the Bible also guarantees us hardship.
And pain. And difficulty. And tribulation.
The same God who promises healing and protection also inspired books like Job to be put in the Bible, where that godly man experienced the opposite of what he had learned to expect.
And this same God inspired verses like this to be put in the Scriptures: “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 29:29)
Before His crucifixion, Jesus even said this to His inner circle of disciples: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
In this world we will have trouble, and some of it will be inexplicable – at least for the moment, given the limited information we have.
But over time, we will see the faithfulness of God. We will see that the greatest obstacles to our faith can become the greatest opportunities to grow in faith, and that the things that the world or circumstances or Satan intended to destroy us with are the very things that can make us strong.
People will disappoint us. The church will disappoint us. We will disappoint others and ourselves.
But God will never disappoint us. Never!
The key thing is that in our darkest moment, when we have lost faith in everyone and everything else, we don’t lose faith in Him – we don’t “lose our grip in God.”
As the years go on, you will see His faithfulness on your behalf. You will watch Him heal the wounds. You will see Him bring life out of death and beauty out of ashes. You will – that is, as long as you don’t abandon Him and throw in the towel.
Weeping may endure for a night – sometimes for a very long night – but joy will come in the morning (see Psalm 30:5). As surely as the sun sets, it will rise again.
This is not cognitive dissonance speaking.
This is not the voice of denial.
This is the voice of experience speaking – in my case, the voice of more than five decades as a believer, and, more broadly, the voice of multiplied millions of witnesses over a period of thousands of years.
God is faithful.
Lean on that unshakable, unalterable truth. Stake your life on it. Depend on it. Hold on to it as if your life depended on it.
And when your own faith is weak and your confidence all but gone, just say from your heart, “Father, you’re just going to have to carry me now.” He will!
And during those times of darkness and storm when you cannot see the light, remember all the things He did for you in the past. He is just the same today, and He will see you through.