It’s hard to trust God to take care of you on a daily basis because He is just so unpredictable. If I get into trouble, will he rescue me like He did for some or will he let me suffer like He did for others – even some of his favorites.
Think about Joseph. He was one of God’s special ones but he ended up in prison on false charges. He did nothing wrong yet nothing went right for him. Of course, I guess, in the end it turned out OK for him – he ended up ruling with Pharoah.
But what about Paul, another one God should have taken care of. He was shipwrecked, beaten, imprisoned and ended up beheaded. How can you trust a God who takes care of you like that? Of course, I guess I have to remember that his story didn’t end when he was beheaded. He then went to heaven to receive the reward he said he had been running a race to receive. So, I guess, in the end it turned out OK for him, too.
Hebrews 11 is “The Faith Chapter” so it should be filled with encouragement as to why we can trust God. But in that chapter we read about people who trusted God and were killed by sword, by stones, they were destitute and mistreated. They lived in caves and holes in the ground. How can I trust a God who lets that happen to folks?
Of course, it does say they were “commended for their faith” (Hebrews 11:39) which sounds like they did OK in the end, too. Like Paul they apparently received some great reward when they got to heaven.
I see a pattern emerging. When we are here on earth, still running the race, things may be tough. If my focus is on the “now” I might be disappointed with how I am treated. But if I am looking forward to the end of the race then whatever I endure now is minor compared to the reward of finishing the race.
That reminds me of a friend who runs Iron Man competitions. While running the race it would be easy to doubt the ability of the race coordinators. He told me how he gets kicked while swimming, sometimes has near panic attacks, hurts all over during and after the event but he keeps going because he has confidence in the folks who put the race together. As rough as things are now he knows that if he stays on course, though it certainly won’t be easy, he will reach the finish line and it will be worth it.
I have to remember that I am in the race right now so there will be “Heartbreak hills”. There will be times I “hit the wall”. Those don’t mean that the one in charge is out of control, not trustworthy or doing a bad job taking care of the “runners”. It is all simply part of running a marathon. I must stay focused on the finish line – what lies ahead, the joy set before me – which is what will enable me to endure the pain I may experience now.
Unlike my “Iron Man” friend, I am not sure I would agree that finishing that race is worth all the preparation and pain that goes into it. But, for some reason, I am pretty confident that this race of life I am running is going to have a prize at the end that will make anything I endured in this life seem tiny.
It is hard to trust God if my focus is just on the here and now – the current struggles of the race. But if I stay focused on the finish line I am reminded that “faithful is He who has called me”
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.