Recently, I read about James' death at the hands of Herod (Acts 12:1-5) and my study directed me to the thoughts of John, his brother. Truly, this instance comes comes under the heading: 'How To Keep Your Faith When Awful Things Happen'.
I've met people in life (and have been one myself) who have lost or questioned their faith when confronted with an horrific happening in their life. Nearly without fail, the question becomes, "If God really loves me, why would He let this happen?"
There's no answer to that question which will solve the puzzle for non-believers and no combination of thoughts to soothe the soul of one struggling in their faith because the answer simply is, FAITH. Faith that God has a blessing to balm the hurt, whether right around the corner, or 20 years down the road. Faith that something new will be learned from the hardship that can someday be shared with another to see them through a similar trial of their own. Faith that no matter how sad, troubled or (fill in the blank) we are, or we become, once we accept Jesus as our personal savior, we will forget everything but joy and love in His presence when our time on earth has ended.
I've struggled with all kinds of questions about Christianity over the years, the biggest being; Why would Jesus have to die such a horrible death for us just so we could be forgiven of sin and go to Heaven? It seems barbaric on the surface to me. Of course I've learned the reason for, and history behind, the Cross through my years of Bible study, but I have to say, just the system of atonement through sacrifice has been a hard one for me to swallow - it's not a practice I would have chosen! Many don't care to read the Old Testament anymore, focusing mainly on the life and works of Jesus and the Apostles, and I wonder if this is not part of the reason why.
Sacrifice of any kind has become very hard to relate to today, as the concept isn't often considered in a country where even but the truly destitute have more than enough.Truly, our personal comfort levels have increased so substantially over the years that many people in America today find even the use of animals for food an uncomfortable thought, let alone as a sacrifice to a God from whom they feel disconnected or for whom they have no need.
In fact, the creature comforts and benefits of technology - including medicine - of which we are privy here in America today make it so easy to become self-sufficient that we convince ourselves we don't need a God because if we get into trouble, there's a machine or a doctor to fix us up.
The key for me when confronting things I don't understand in Christianity, has been to lean on my personal relationship with Jesus - to go to what I know. I've been blessed to witness His hand on my life - he truly restored my soul - yet our relationship is a day-to-day walk in which I oftentimes have to remind myself the basics; He is my helper/redeemer/father, He's in charge of the universe. In fact, working to open your heart and mind to a personal relationship with Him - to an understanding of the basic tenets of Christianity - is the only way to come to the point where you can answer the hard questions in life with the concept declared by that single word, "Faith".
Jesus has said, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." (Revelation 3:20)
I've found that to be true. When I'm in trouble, when I need help, I call out to God - I lift my eyes up to the hills from whence my help commeth (Psalm 121). No trouble is too bad, no sin too great for the healing touch of the Great Physician. Fortunately, we have only to ask.