Published October 25, 2011

Paul's Epistle...
"But If Not..." – Your Responses

Last week's Epistle entitled "But If Not..." apparently touched a lot of people. I've been getting more than the usual number of responses from readers. Typical was this one:

"I almost always enjoy reading your columns – but some just make a bigger impact and statement, or touch my heart more than others. This week was one of them. I know what it is like to be upset with God because He didn't answer my prayers the way I wanted Him to! Being human, I find it hard sometimes when God says ‘no!'" – Corrie H.

The column, as you'll recall, asked the reader to example his or her faith. Is it strong enough not to be destroyed when God doesn't do what we ask Him to do? Is it strong enough to realize that God may have a better plan? Can we go on trusting Him, no matter what?

"I would hope so, Paul. But I remember when my daughter had cancer and He took her home. I did question why. But I knew He did heal her, and that's what I asked for. So why did I say ‘why?' I knew He took my husband as He needed him, but my young daughter of 49? I still have questions but know that He is in charge and I do trust Him. He knew best, not me." – Jan H.

The Lord does know best. But our humanity, our this-life-based experience, tends to make it difficult to fully comprehend this and to rely fully on this truth. We need to remember that verse (one of my favorites) that I quoted last week: "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).

"When my husband was killed by a drunk driver 25 years ago, the Lord gave me this verse in Romans 8:28 as my security verse. I used it on the bottom of all my thank you notes after the funeral. We might not understand the ‘why' that things happen, but we know that we can trust God through these situations..." – Glenda H.

The Lord reminds us frequently in Scripture of His promises to be with us. As the Psalmist says, "This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life" (Psalms 119:50).

"Paul, your newsletter really hit home for me. My husband, Alan, of 42 years, passed away March 29 from lung cancer. Even though we knew he had some serious health issues, the diagnosis was only made six weeks prior. He loved the Lord, and was ready to go, but it was so very difficult to see his pain increase, not knowing what the Lord had planned. By God's grace, love and mercy he did not suffer long. But if not for faith I'd not know what to do. God knows best and He has helped me through each day. I know He will continue to meet all of my needs. God had something better ready for my husband to go to. Perhaps He has something even better for me, too, if not here, surely when He calls me home, too." – Paula H.

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear..." (Psalm 46:1-2a). And Peter reminds us, "humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:6-7).

"The lesson in this newsletter is what I needed to read to reaffirm what I know are truths. Sometimes, He will answer our prayers. And sometimes He will not. ‘And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, he heareth us; And if we know that He hear us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him' (1 John 5:14-15)." – James P.

Nobody said having such a deep faith in God would come easy. It's not "natural." But if we allow the Holy Spirit to minister as we pray and read the Bible, He will help us. That's one reason, after all, why the Lord called the Spirit "the Comforter" (John 14:16, 26; 16:7). Remember, "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17).

Just like a muscle, exercise your faith – and it will grow stronger.

- Paul

Comments on this? paul@thegospelgreats.com

PS: See Shelia's related column below.

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