Martin and Gracia were married with missionary work in both their hearts. For 17 years they served God in the Philippines. Their three children were born in the mission field, and their valuable skills added to the ministry’s aviation program. They were acclimated to the country, focused, and essential to the mission.
One day, while celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary at a beachside resort , Martin and Gracia were taken hostage by a militant terrorist organization with ties to Al Qaeda. Day and night they were both chained to a guard and for over four hundred days endured endless marches through the jungle, little food, and over seventeen firefights. They spend those days scared to death. Their health deteriorated, but their faith grew stronger. “We might not leave this jungle alive,” Martin said, “But at least we can leave this world serving the Lord with gladness.” A premonition led Martin to write a farewell letter to his children. That premonition proved accurate.
On June 7, 2002, Philippine Rangers attacked the terrorist camp, catching Martin and Gracia in the crossfire. One bullet entered her leg, one bullet took his life. She was left a widow, and we are left to wonder why. Is this how God honors his children? How do you explain such a tragedy? (Adapted).
Is God mad? Did humanity cross the line centuries ago and now getting what we deserve? Did God mess up? The truth is this: we can’t blame the suffering on the anger of God. He’s not mad and He most certainly didn’t mess up or make a mistake. If we follow our troubles, we won’t find an angry, befuddled God—no. But we will find a sovereign God.
It’s hard to think that our pain has a purpose. You problems, struggles, heartaches, and hassles cooperate toward one end—the glory of God. God tells us,
“ and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me” (Psalm 50:15, ESV).
Definitely not something easy to think about. It’s not easy for us, and it was not easy for the blind man in John 9:
“As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. (2) And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (3) Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:1-3).
If you were blind from birth—you might be so inclined to have a chip on your shoulder. Add to that the religious elite who were supposed to be the loving people of God, telling you that you or your parents had done something to anger God so you are God’s whipping boy, and you would probably be angry at God.
Usually we take these kinds of events, much like the Jewish people did in the first century: That somebody did something deserving of punishment. While we DO have to reap the consequences that our sins can cause, a lot of the struggles we go through, are for one purpose: do put God’s power and glory on display for the world to see. We say that God is “good” and rightly so, because He is. But we often get upset with God when things go wrong because we though He only promised us “good things.” Let’s look at it form a different point of view: what if our definition of “good” is not God’s? What if our definition of “good” is based on selfishness and personal wants? What if God’s definition of “good” is anything that displays His glory and brings people closer to Him?
In this life, tragedy is as unavoidable as death and taxes. God isn’t punishing us when tragedy strikes, but rather using our struggles to advance His Kingdom and His glory for all the world to see. Think of it this way: you are broken, wounded vessel that has withstood all the hardships in life and STILL you are standing. Isn’t it amazing how the people who hurt the most, are the most joyful and faithful? Why is that? Is it because they are delusional? They are psychotic? Not at all! It is because they take the Scriptures literally when they tell us,
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, (3) for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. (4) And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4)
When we suffer, we are glorifying God! Our struggles are about Him! Just something to think about.