The photo is of Harold, my father-in-law, in his youth during the 2nd World War. Although he died 22 years ago, at the age of 87, good memories about him live on. Just recently on our visit to Kalgoorlie, we met a friend in his early 80s who remembered Harold’s visits to the mission station where he worked. He recalled appreciating the Bible studies he gave.
I recall a number of things he said. One of them concerned “faith.” He used to say something like, if we didn’t have hard times – struggles, illness, opposition, temptations – then we wouldn’t need faith. If everything was smooth sailing in life, we would begin to think we didn’t need a faith in God.
David, in Psalm 59:10-11, puts it another way. In praying for God’s deliverance from his enemies he says:
go before me
and will let me gloat over those who slander me.
11 But do not kill them, Lord our shield,
or my people will forget.
In your might uproot them
and bring them down.
As much as we don’t appreciate the tough times, it seems it is God’s way of growing us into a deeper and more mature faith in him and helping us not to be forgetful of him and his ways.
Psalm 56 is encouraging such faith in tough times. In fact, David repeats a phrase to emphasize the point. He says:
3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
4 In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?
10 In God, whose word I praise,
in the Lord, whose word I praise—
11 in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can man do to me?
But faith in God in the tough times is a very personal thing that God takes seriously, so, David is able to say:
8 Record my misery;
list my tears on your scroll—
are they not in your record?
God is not sitting back enjoying our trials and tribulations because he is aware that they will strengthen our faith, if we have the right attitude. No, he understands what we are going through, and, in a sense, he suffers with us, caring for us in the process. He is the God and “Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles…” as Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
My father-in-law wasn’t perfect (who is, other than Jesus?), but he made an impact in his day. He loved the Word of God and taught it faithfully, trusting in the Author even through the toughest of times.
I wonder? What will you be remembered for?
teach us in the tough times in life to put our trust in you, even if your
answer to our prayers for deliverance is not to completely destroy the cause of
our pain. Thank you that you care. And Father, like my father-in-law, help us
to leave a legacy of faith in You that inspires the next generation. Amen.