David L. Goetsch
Why Did God Let this Happen? Growing in Faith When Life Hurts
Updated: Jan 5, 2020
Growing in Faith When Life Hurts - PART 1
This is Part 1 of a multi-part series on growing in faith during times of adversity.
There is no question about it—there are times when life hurts, when just getting through the day is a challenge. Bad things happen to all of us. Loss of a job, death of a loved one, divorce, crippling injury, financial ruin, miscarriage, drug addiction, alcohol problems, natural disasters, decline of an elderly parent, and betrayal of trust are just a few of the heartbreaking events that intrude on the lives of believers and unbelievers alike, often unexpectedly. The sad fact is that few people enjoy lives free of grief, disappointment, or discouragement.
When tragic events or unwelcome circumstances encroach on your happiness and peace of mind, you are forced to make a choice. You can run to God or run from him. In other words, you can ask God to lift you up during your time of need and, as a result, grow in your faith or you can run away from Him and lose your faith. I have seen both happen, and can attest that few things are sadder than Christians whose lives are mired in anger, bitterness, and resentment because their faith faltered when it was needed most. Correspondingly, few things are more encouraging than Christians whose hearts are once again filled with hope because they clung to Christ in those dark days when only He could help them. Helping Christians who are struggling with grief, disappointment, or discouragement achieve this latter outcome is why I developed my ten-step plan for growing in faith when life hurts.
God understands that life can be difficult—that His children are going to suffer. Consequently, when we face hardships, grief, disappointment, or discouragement, He wants us to place our burdens at His feet in faith and trust in Him to bring us through the darkness that envelopes us. If we do this, He will not only provide hope, healing, and restoration, He will use our suffering to strengthen our faith in Him, thereby making us better able to cope with the inevitable hardships of life. This is the message in Jeremiah 29:11. This verse assures us that God has a plan that will provide us with a future and with hope.
This is important because Satan also understands that life sometimes hurts, and he rejoices in that fact because our pain is one of his favorite tools for turning us from Christ. Like the predator he is, Satan creeps up on you at the weakest and most vulnerable points in your life. Recall the message in 1 Peter 5:8. This verse warns that we should be watchful because the devil is prowling around looking for vulnerable prey. Just as lions and wolves like to attack prey that has been weakened by injury, Satan likes to attack people who have been weakened by grief, disappointment, or discouragement.
We are most vulnerable to Satan’s nefarious schemes when life knocks us down, filling our hearts with hopelessness and despair. Satan chooses these moments to pull us away from God and into his evil clutches. When this happens, the hope, healing, and restoration that can come only from Christ are preempted by anger, bitterness, and resentment. When life hurts, God offers you hope and healing. Satan offers you only hopelessness and despair.
When weighed down by grief, disappointment, or discouragement, just functioning on a daily basis can be a monumental challenge. There are plenty of books available to help you cope sufficiently to function on a daily basis when life hurts. But just coping—just getting by—is not enough. God wants to guide you through your present darkness and grow your faith in the process. He wants you to do more than just regain your emotional equilibrium. He wants you to emerge from the darkness stronger and closer to Him than you were before an unwelcome event turned your life upside down.
This is where my ten-step plan comes into play. In dealing with hurting brothers and sisters over the years, I have learned that guiding them to the applicable Bible verses, reassuring them, and praying with them is not always enough. These things are important, of course, even critical. But hurting brothers and sisters need more if they are going to move beyond just coping to growing in faith. They need specific things to do; specific actions to take that will help them apply the guidance they receive from Scripture, prayer, and the wise counsel of pastors, counselors, and fellow believers. These specific actions are what my ten-step plan provides for you.
The ten-step plan has three broad goals. It is my fervent prayer that the plan will help you achieve all three of these goals. First, each step in the plan is designed to help you find comfort, hope, and restoration in the loving arms of Christ as you struggle to regain your emotional equilibrium. Second, together, the ten steps in the plan are designed to help you draw closer to God and grow in faith as you heal, recover, and move toward restoration. Third, the overall plan is designed to strengthen you to the point that you are not just able to cope with life’s difficulties yourself, but also able to help others cope with their heartaches.
THE TEN-STEP PLAN
When the grief, disappointment, or discouragement you face seem overwhelming, you have a choice: a life restored and your faith strengthened or a life mired in anger, bitterness, and resentment. The choice is yours. Having said this, let me be quick to add that I understand how difficult it can be to make the right choice when you feel weighed down by grief, disappointment, or discouragement. Even the most committed Christian will need help in these situations. This is why I developed the ten-step plan that is the basis of this article.
It is my sincere hope and fervent prayer that this plan will help you cope during times of great emotional turmoil, and do so in ways that bring you closer to God while also increasing your faith in Him. The steps in the model are as follows:
Refuse to blame God for your suffering
Understand the phases of suffering you will go through
Look for God’s purpose in your suffering
Use adversity to bring you closer to God
Do not try to cope with your suffering alone
Know there will be times when it will seem that your faith is not being rewarded
Help someone else who is suffering
Use adversity to develop Godly character
Take the long view
Share your growth in faith with others who are hurting
Each step in the plan will be examined in detail in upcoming editions of this Blog.
Dr. Goetsch is the author of Christian Women on the Job: Excelling at Work without Compromising Your Faith, Fidelis Books, an imprint of Post Hill Press and Christians on the Job: Winning at Work Without Compromising Your Faith, Salem Books, an imprint of Regnery Publishing, 2019: www.david-goetsch.com