Honestly, I despise words of “comfort” that many suffering Christians receive. The kind that interprets horrific events as lessons from God or “blessings in disguise” or, perhaps on the positive side, the promise of the American Dream: If I trust God I will get a great and/or fulfilling job, and be successful. Maybe on a good day someone will simply say, “all things will turn out for good.” If by the latter one means the resurrection, consummation of the kingdom and transformation of humanity and the world—then yes, I agree!
A relationship with God is more complicated than a reliance on someone who rewards good behavior with earthly blessings or on one who requires you to have a positive cheerful attitude at all times (just read Job or the Prophets!). The God of the Bible became a human being. He was not a Jesus who laughed next to the cross, but who lived in poverty, was often rejected, betrayed by friends and died at a young age. The God of the Bible is also the one who was continually betrayed and denied by the people he blessed over the years throughout the Old Testament.
So lets cut to the chase. What happened recently? Nick and I recently discovered that nearly all of our funding for school has been suddenly cut off starting in 2017. Why? The answer is complicated. It is enough to say that the church that was helping us (and others) were afraid and made a decision in haste. They do not owe us anything and I am immensely thankful for the help they have provided us over the years. Still, this leaves Nick and I in a bind because this announcement came after other scholarship and loan applications ended. This threatens what I have worked much of my life towards and the dream Nick and I have for teaching Bible and theology at a university or seminary one day for a living.
But I’ve got faith in God. I believe if he wants us to fulfill these dreams he will make a way. He may not. I know what it is like to trust God through child abuse and back injuries that left me constantly exhausted through a good portion of life. God did not make the adult who abused me over many years stop. What he did do was come alongside me in my suffering and fought the lies about my personhood, taught me how to live, that I was loved and to love others. He taught me from another unusual event (that I may speak about in the future) that his wondrous and good presence is everywhere despite appearances.
To sum everything up, I believe Jesus has indeed lived, died and rose again for the sins and glorification of humanity and that his kingdom is breaking into the present. I trust in God, not in the American dream. Evil and difficulties may persist for a time, but God’s kingdom has already been inaugurated and will soon be consummated.
"Sing a song full of hope that the present has brought us; facing the rising sun of our new day begun, let us march on till victory is won."