This past week I received questions from someone who expressed great disillusionment. His personal life is marked by depression. His wife did not turn out to be what he thought she would be. His child had major problems and is in prison. He thinks God does not care about Christians since many of them are persecuted and even killed. So he has basically given up on God and is quite angry.
As I considered the sad state of this person’s condition, I wondered if he had ever really thought about life from the Bible’s perspective. The scriptures describe Job’s life as rather pathetic after he lost everything. Job’s wife was no help, urging him to curse God and die.
I wondered if he had thought about the words of Jesus when He told His disciples that the time would come when children would not only not turn out well, but they “shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death” (Mk. 13:12b).
I wondered if he had considered that God sometimes steps in in marvelous ways to give deliverance to His people. He also allows some of them to suffer greatly. I wondered if he had considered the contrasts shown in Hebrews 11 where great heroes of the faith experienced great victories, but “others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth” (Heb. 11:36 – 38).
I wondered if he had given thought to the fact that the Bible tells us we all have an appointment with the grim reaper. “It is appointed unto man once to die,” wrote the Hebrew writer. Since I have been battling cancer I have faced this fact. Months ago I told my wife that, yes, I was going to die, but others would die before me. I repeated that recently, but also noted that not as many are left! In the interim, I have attended funerals of young and old. I’ve lost a relative and at least one high school classmate since then.
I have wondered if he had remembered that the Bible describes the results of the fall of man. Man is wicked in his heart and that shows up in his deeds. Just as this disillusioned man can cast aspersions on the God he seems to be rejecting, so can other men totally forget God and act in ways worse than the beasts of the field. God has made man in His image, but the fallen nature of man has reached unbelievable depths of depravity.
I wonder if he considered that God sent His only Son into this present evil world on a rescue mission that was destined to end in His being shamefully betrayed, cruelly abused, and ignominiously crucified. I wonder if he considered that Jesus on the cross felt the abandonment of the Father when He cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
I wonder if he had ever really considered what it means to be a Christ follower. When Jesus called His disciples, He told them that the requirement was to deny self, take up a cross, and follow Jesus. If he listened to some prevalent teaching, he may have gotten the wrong impression. Following Jesus does not mean getting a promise that things will go right. No, we don’t have the promise of health and prosperity. When Paul the Apostle became a Christian, he embarked on a journey that began by his being a fugitive from those who were bent on killing him. You could say his life went downhill from there. He was beaten and left for dead, falsely accused, arrested, taken to Rome, and eventually killed.
Where do we get the idea that things are going to go right when we become followers of Jesus? They often go wrong. When Jesus gave some of His hard sayings, multitudes of people abandoned Him. So many deserted Him, that Jesus turned to his very close disciples and asked, “Will ye also go away?” (Jn. 6:67b).
Peter gave an answer which got to the very heart of the matter. “Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life (Jn. 6:68).
Peter’s answer cut through all the noisy distractions of hard sayings, life’s difficulties, unanswered wonderings, evil enemies, and personal problems. The main reason Jesus came was to give us the opportunity to have eternal life. People use the existence of evil as a reason to disbelieve in God. However, that is the very reason Christ came. God is not some abstract being described by the deists as having abandoned the world He created. He has entered our world. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16).
I wonder if disillusioned people consider that this is not heaven. It is a fallen place. “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now and not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:22, 23). This world is not heaven because there will be no groaning in heaven. And we who are God’s people are not in heaven because at present we “groan within ourselves.”
Jesus came not to make this present world a paradise. He came to take us to a place He has prepared for us. It is where, “There shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain” (Rev. 21:4). He prepared the place for us after His resurrection. “I go,” He told His disciples, “to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (Jn. 14:2, 3).
Where is God when things don’t go right? The Father is in heaven and the risen Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, is on the right hand waiting for the word to return for His own. The Holy Spirit of Christ is in the world wooing those who are yet in their unbelief, and giving the comfort of hope for those who are looking for Christ’s coming.
So don’t give up. Look up. Redemption draws near.
Oft times the day seems long, our trials hard to bear, We’re tempted to complain, to murmur and despair; But Christ will soon appear to catch His Bride away, All tears forever over in God’s eternal day.
It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ.
-Esther Kerr Rusthoi