Christians are sometimes reluctant to talk about their faith in Christ. Many prefer to serve God with their lives as living examples of their testimony. There are different ways to share the love of God, one most definitely is by preaching and sharing His word and another is using one’s own life as an example of that love.
We sometimes as believers forget that we are ambassadors of our Lord as we are charged with sharing Christ with others and are equally responsible to be ministers of the Gospel as those who stand behind the pulpit. One way that each of us can minister to a lost world is to simply live our faith.
Life is hard and is full of hard times, painful experiences that sometimes leave us confused and bewildered struggling to comprehend and understand what has taken place in our lives. It is when we are in the midst of enduring these times that our lives and the experiences we endure can open doors to ministers to others who are in need, sharing the love of God. I have heard many people say “why did God do this to me”, or in a tragic situation state, “God, this isn’t fair”. Sometimes as we go through painful experiences there are no easy answers and life does seem unfair. As we interact with people our daily lives these situations happen all the time to us and those around us. The pain and heartache that life sometimes brings our way is a wondrous opportunity to share the love of Christ with others. As others watch how we as believers endure our hardships, our lives become living testaments of our faith. Other times as we watch friends, co-workers and family members go through painful situations we have the opportunity to interact with them in support, opening the door for the love of Christ to be shared.
Just in the last year alone, I have friends who have had spouses and children die and more than once the question was asked to me, “Why did God let this happen”? There are not many questions in life harder to address than discussing the passing of a loved one in the midst of heartache. I have personal relationships with these friends who had loses in their lives, and I could see and feel the pain they were going through. They were hurt, despondent and looking for answers, and to be honest when the question “Why did God let this happen ” is asked of me sometimes it is very hard to give an answer that will comfort their wounded hearts. In each instance I try to answer by sharing personal experiences in my own life that I struggled with myself.
I have a dear friend that was widowed as a young woman. Her husband died in a car accident leaving behind two small girls who would never know their dad. He was a godly man, a loving father and husband with an exemplary relationship with God. I asked, “Why did God allow him to die so young, leaving behind a wife, two infants, a loving extended family and many friends”? He was a man who shared the love of Christ, as always evidenced by his witness and his daily life.
I asked God, Why? As I struggled for answers to understand the situation myself I turned to God’s word to try to find answers to my own questions. As I read in the scriptures, I found numerous occasions where men such as David and Job endured loss of loved ones and endured tragic situations and I began to see the hand of God working even in the midst of death. I began to understand that anyone who has grieved has asked questions like these. The problem is that they simply are not answerable. These things are secrets in the mind of God and therefore mysteries to us.
As we look for answers to understand our pain, or the pain of others there is no stock answer. In the midst of enduring heartache and tragedy God’s love by Christ Jesus is the more poured out in us and on us to strengthen us.
We read in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that our weakness, and in our pain the power of the living God rests upon us. In our weakness, the strength of the grace of the Lord is manifested in us, even more. In the midst of our despair, we are fully conscious of being weak, broken, feeble, and in need of His strength. It is the times when we are desperately in need of His aid that Jesus manifests his power of grace in our lives to strengthen us, to uphold us , and impart to us His divine comfort. We are best where we are weak, because it is in our weakness we allow Christ to take over, be the center of strength in our lives. We connect with God when we are weak because in our weakness we are able to completely surrender our will to our Redeemer, as His grace supplies our every need. We are held in the palms of His hand when we endure heartache as in our weakness we completely surrender our will to our Redeemer and His grace supplies our every need.
Many times good can come out of the very worst of situations. Dealing with the death of a loved one is hard and difficult to understand, but God’s word tells us that life’s brightest moments can sometimes be found in the middle of our darkest hours.
The death of Jesus Christ our Lord teaches us this very truth. As Jesus died a seemingly tragic death on a cross on Golgotha, the best thing that ever happened to all of humanity came from the worst thing ever. What could be worse than the killing of the living Son of God? What could be more unjust and unfair than the torture and execution of a man who had never even committed a sin, much less a crime? What could be more unjust and unfair than killing the only perfect man who ever lived? I am sure as Jesus died on that day, the disciples were shocked and bewildered by what they had just witnessed and asked, “Why did God let this happen”?
What they did not understand as we many times do not ourselves, that this terrible tragedy was completely under God’s control. As Jesus died upon the cross sin and death were defeated, and in his seemingly weakest hour, the strength of God was made manifest as redemption was poured out for the first time upon all mankind. In that weakness and pain and suffering that Jesus endured, the power of the living God rested upon all the world bring salvation and restoration to all humanity.
In the same way, Jesus can give us beauty in our lives even when we feel we are in ashes. We can find wonderful things out of even the darkest moments of our lives. Our Lord is present with us when it is the very darkness. He has planned that even the darkest of situations that we face will result in redemptive good for us. He surrendered His very own Son to death so that we could have life. He does not abandon us.
We read in Isaiah 63:1 that the children of God that mourn will be given beauty for ashes. What God is saying here is a beautiful thing, Christ gives mourners the beautiful gift of salvation, wrapped in his righteousness, by the graces of his Spirit. He fills our hearts with His gracious presence, giving us joy, peace, and comfort. This beauty for ashes is not natural thing that any one of us could acquire of ourselves, but is of grace; not acquired, but given. It is not fictitious, but it is real, perfect and complete, and bestowed upon us by Christ himself who gives it to all of us freely.
As we face the death of a loved one, or a tragedy in our lives we need to be reminded that we are not alone. Jesus endured death for us so that even in the face of death we would be able to live with hope, strength, and courage. And because of what Jesus has done for all of us good things can happen even in our darkest moments of life. We cannot let grief rob us of the beautiful life that God has planned for us. We can choose to live and experience and receive the wonderful grace that Jesus died to give us, and find beauty for ashes.