Published August 24, 2010

Paul's Epistle...

Earlier this year I wrote a series of columns about how God is our comfort and strength, especially in difficult times. Recently I wrote about how the Bowlings see God at work, building a testimony in them even as they recover from a horrific bus accident.

One reader, Charles Branthoover, wrote that as he and his wife say in their singing ministry, "If you are having no trials in your life you need to go into your prayer closet and get right with God. Satan doesn't bother those who are no threat to him, but he constantly troubles those who belong to Jesus."

Charles passed along an article he wrote that deals with this matter – and with the greater question of why God allows difficult times to befall Christians. With his permission, I'd like to share that article with you (below).

- Paul

"God, Why Did You Let This Happen To Me?"
By Charles Branthoover

"God why did you let this happen to me?"  If you have ever asked this question then you need to read on.

But before we attempt to find an answer, let me ask you a question. Have you ever wondered why Paul, the Great Apostle, one of the most dedicated and faithful of God's holy servants, suffered so much more than most? Paul himself said (II Corinthians 11:23 thru 28 KJV) that he received "five times of the Jews....forty stripes save one," was "beaten with rods, once I was stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep." "In journeyings often, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;" "In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness." And on top of this he says he has the burdens that come daily and the "care of the churches." What a terrible price this righteous man of God suffered for his faithfulness.

Paul also had a physical ailment, his "thorn in the flesh," for which he prayed three times that God would remove [it] from him, to which God replied, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness" (II Corinthians 12:9). Paul's response to this was, "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distress for Christ's sake; for when I am weak then am I strong" (II Corinthians 12:10).

Paul was a powerful man and yet he spent much of his latter years of his life in prison only to be beheaded for his faithfulness.

"God, why did you let this righteous faithful servant suffer so much?"

Perhaps in this question is the key to why you are suffering so much. God only allows the strong and faithful to suffer [so] that they will be a strength to Him. We have His Holy Word that He will never put more on us than we can bear, so He very well knows our strength even when we don't.

But why does He allow it?  It really is quite simple in His holy perfect plan. We are called by Him when we accept Jesus into our hearts to be a witness to others. It is our obligation to testify to others of the awesome Grace of God and the redemption of our sins with the blood sacrifice of our Lord Jesus.

Who then makes the most powerful witness to anything? Is it not someone who has been there and done that? Is it not the mother who has lost a young child that can comfort and give strength to someone who just recently went through the same?

Bring to mind your trials from the past if you will. As painful as they are, can you as a Christian reach out to someone going through that same or similar thing right now and bring comfort to them? Can you see the strength in this? Can you see God's holy plan when He allows bad things to happen to the faithful?

Lets go back to Paul for a moment. Paul was an educated man and carried powerful credentials. He was obsessed with persecuting the early Christians and had church authority to hunt them down so that their end was prison or death. Why then would anyone have listened to him when he began witnessing about Jesus? They listened because of his faithfulness in spite of his trials and sufferings. It was because he suffered so many beatings and such that his testimony became more than just mere words. He suffered, too — so his faith wasn't empty and they wanted to hear this man!

Who would you rather listen to when you are troubled and suffering — John and Mary Goodie-Goodie who drives a beautiful car, live in a ritzy house and never seem to have anything bad happen to them? Or, someone who has walked in your shoes, lived the torment you are going through right now and does understand? I would think the latter, because they do understand and can help you get through it — because they have been there.

God in His Holy Word tells us to glory in all things. If you are truly a Christian and love the Lord, then you no longer live for yourself alone. You care about others and suffer when they suffer, rejoice when they rejoice. You may not out of your suffering and tragedy start a television program to catch criminals or start a foundation that will aid millions. You may only help a single soul get through a similar situation. But what a blessing this simple act will be to that troubled soul.

Now you know "why?"

Now you must reach to the Lord for the strength and praise Him for the blessing that will surely come when you use the gift He handed to you. What an honor that He finds you faithful enough and strong enough to bear this terrible burden that others will be blessed by it! You are truly blessed by God. May you rest in His arms...and use this glorious blessing to help many. Amen and amen!

Above article copyright 2001 by Charles E. Branthoover, used here by permission.

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