On February 19, 2017, my family and I experienced the trauma of an armed invasion of our home. The last three weeks I have been asked several times by well meaning inquirers if it has shaken my faith. To be quite honest…No, it has not. While it has shaken my faith in some people, it hasn’t shaken my faith in Jesus.
I understand where their questions are coming from. After all, how could a loving God allow such a violent crime to happen to His children?
I don’t have the answers, but I don’t need them. Nearly three decades of serving in ministry and caring for people in the throes of tragedy have taught me there are no easy answers. I have read many excellent theological works examining the problems of evil and suffering, but none of them truly soothes the anguished soul.
There is only one thing that brings comfort and peace to me in the storms of life: Running to Jesus.
Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him (Psalm 34:8).
It’s so simple that we miss it. Many of us run away from Jesus when we are hurt or disappointed. We become jaded that our faithful God-honoring prayers haven’t been answered or when we encounter difficulties that don’t make sense. We close ourselves off from our Helper and Healer, and bitterly rely on our own strength and the power of our own intellect. We shake our fists at the Lord rather than raise our hands in surrender.
Yet, in this broken world, groaning under the weight of sinful choices of past generations as well as our own, the only thing that makes sense to me is finding refuge in Jesus.
The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe (Proverbs 18:10).
Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me (Psalm 63:7-8).
Thirty-six years ago this month, I committed my life to Jesus. As a young teenager, I sat on the front steps of my grandparents’ house, talking to the Lord. “I give my life to You. Even if nobody else in my whole world understands, I will follow You all the days of my life.” I meant it with every fiber of my being.
However, like a bride madly in love on her wedding day, I really had no clue what that meant. When a couple vows to stay together “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, until death parts us,” they are sincere. But they can’t possibly know what “worse,” “poorer” and “sickness” will look like. I was thoroughly captivated by the One who loves me and gave His life for me. I was determined to love Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.
As is always the case, life happened.
The early years of walking with Jesus and serving in ministry were filled with blessings and miraculous answers to prayer. Somehow I came to expect that the blessings were a reward for faithfully following Jesus and believing God’s Word. Eventually though that castle of cards came crashing down. I had to ask myself, “Why am I following Jesus?”
Is it because…
…I want my sins forgiven?
…He promises to bless me?
…He will protect me from bad things?
…All the people I care about follow Him?
…He will make my life easier?
…I feel called to the ministry? …I need my own genie in a bottle with unlimited wishes?
I realized that if I follow Jesus, because of the blessings I think I am entitled to here on this earth, then I am really a fair weather follower. Trials will come, disappointments will set in, and I will walk away from a faith that is no longer working for me.
When my youngest daughter was born with spina bifida, my faith was tested. I was devastated that she had a serious birth defect. I was angry that God hadn’t revealed Himself as the Great Physician, even though thousands of people around the globe were fervently praying. For a period of over two years, I did some serious soul searching. “Why am I following Jesus?”
Would I be like Job who despite the physical and emotional agony of losing everything continued to praise the Lord?
Or would I be like Job’s wife who advised him to “curse God and die.”
Would I be a fair weather follower like the crowd in John Chapter 6? They were offended because the teachings of Jesus were too hard. They turned away and no longer walked with Him.
Through the years on this journey with Jesus, I may not have always gotten what I thought would be good. But I have found to be true what the Apostle Peter declared long ago.
So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68-69).
I am not a fair weather follower of Jesus.
Recently I texted my dear friend that struggles with Multiple Sclerosis. She is a follower of Jesus whose trust in Him inspires me. I wrote:
“This life doesn’t always make sense and the only way I know to navigate the difficulties is to desperately rely on Jesus.”
I sent these words 12 hours before three criminals entered our home and stories.
Though trouble may visit my family and my own life be threatened, I follow Jesus. He is my Refuge. He causes me to be resilient. Through the power of His Spirit I thrive.
Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73:25-26).
My friend, let me encourage you. Don’t be a fair weather follower. No matter what, follow Jesus.
Heavenly Father, here I am with a heart of surrender. I choose to trust You when things don’t make sense. I choose to follow You wherever You lead. During times of trial, help me to run to You and not away from You. You are my Refuge and my Strength, always near in times of trouble. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.