I was talking to a very close friend in the Philippines at about 3:00 a.m. today. We've never actually met in person but over the past two years have chatted almost daily; exchanged gifts via snail mail; and encouraged one another in our faith and daily struggles. It is one of my greatest wishes to meet her in person and I look forward to the time when I know we will meet; either on this earth or in God's kingdom.
She's taught me a lot. Mostly, about the struggles that most of the world live with on a daily basis: poverty, illness which they are powerless to treat due to lack of available funds and care options, "sub-standard" housing, violence and natural disasters in their countries, the suffering they undergo for their faith--and more than all of these: gratitude for what they DO have. Despite all of these daily problems; despite the deaths of almost all of her close family members in the past two years; despite her own serious illnesses and those of her children; despite her husband's infidelity and, later, desertion; despite his destroying her reputation in their town--she continues to praise and thank God and is amazingly thankful for His every gift to her.
I thought about some of the non-believers I know who regularly accuse God of injustice, even cruelty and sadism,despite the fact that they live in warm homes, with adequate income and the many blessings that come with living in the USA. What makes the difference between these two groups of people? I believe it is several things. One is that the people living in the midst of huge difficulty and suffering have come to really seek out God and to learn to know Him as He really is. They have to. They desperately rely on Him for everything and for meaning in this difficult, suffering-strewn life.
Another factor is that of gratitude. Let's face it: spoiled children do not appreciate gifts the way those who struggle do! This life of hardship opens the eyes of God's children to be thankful for each and every small benefit, as well as the large ones. I do not believe that God inflicts pain on us in order to get some gratitude out of us; but it may well be that He allows the enemy a bit more room to attack us in order for us to get to know Him better. I believe that this was His method in dealing with Job, in Scriptures, among other reasons, such as teaching all heaven and hell a lesson about Himself and those who are faithful to Him.
And fourthly, those who are in need will rely on Him more and live with a continual awareness of their dependance on the Father for survival and provision and for Life itself. This does not fulfill some ego-manaical need on the part of God; but it is rather, an opening of His childrens' eyes to see things as they really are--and when we do that, a whole world of blessing and relationship opens up to us as we learn to relate in the realm of what is true and real with our Lord.
I have found all of these factors to be true in my own life as I have struggled with a host of difficulties that leaves most people who know me shaking their heads in disbelief. Yet as I mentioned in an earlier post, I would not trade my life for another. I believe that I've come to know my Father in a way that many are not privileged to know Him...and it is this very level of suffering that has permitted my intimacy with Him! And I know, that because God IS just and loving and good, that, in the end, we will be more than "paid back" in good things for all the heartache and hardship we have suffered here in this life!