The apostle Paul was going along his merry way, pockets filled with writs to capture and bring to “justice” to those Jews who were following the “way” (this new religion ushered in by Jesus). He was on the road to Damascus and, bam, God the Son intervened in a miraculous way, blinding him with brilliant light and turning his life upside down.
Consider this: God is not restricted to our understanding. He can reveal himself in our lives in a number of ways. Some are direct as in the life of Paul and others, of this day, who’ve experienced the miraculous. Others are indirect, as experienced by Job, where God allowed loss and tragedy but ultimately restored things back to him.
And today, tragedy, heartache, sickness and every unpleasant thing are experienced in some degree or fashion by everyone, Christian (follower of Christ) or not. Life happens to everyone. God allows all things to sovereignly pass through his hands to all of his creation for purposes known only to him. What matters for the Christians is how we handle what we experience and what comes from it.
Paul had to re-learn a lot. He had to rely on others to get him through the immediate days that followed, he had to start the process of redefining who God is and he had to trust what he could not see nor understand. But more importantly, I believe, he had to surrender and trust. He was in a situation he could not control nor manage. Blind and at the mercy of those he was pursuing, with his reputation preceding him, he was helpless. He had had a supernatural encounter he had no personal reference for; life for him had changed and was changing.
And this same pattern follows us.
We try to make sense of our unexpected circumstances, to explain the unexplainable. Why bad things happen to good people; more importantly why to us, to me! We wrestle, deny, bargain, get angry and go through excruciating mental gyrations trying to understand, but the answers we come up with seldom satisfy for very long if at all. Ultimately, we too must surrender if we are to get through this; like Paul, we too are helpless. Surrender and trust go hand in hand. The book of Job goes to great lengths to teach us the sovereignty of God over our lives, a lesson every Christian must learn.
No one wants to experience bad things, but this is a sinful, fallen world. How we handle them can strengthen our faith or weaken it, even destroy it. But unexpected hardship certainly clarifies what we believe and onto what we have been anchoring our life. And ultimately that can be a blessing and a life changer.
Like Paul who had to relearn who God was, to get his theology straight, we, too, when life hits must have our faith anchored in the scriptural truth of God, not a self-centered theology where we are on the throne and not him.
Norm Hooven can be reached at revnorm@juno .com.