Not many of us, perhaps, will face tests as great as Shadrach, Meshach, or Abed-Nego faced on the day when the king threw them into a fiery furnace. Even so, tests will come. Temptations will come. And many of those moments of great testing will come when you are alone, with no one looking.
We can ask God why anytime we want to. But I don't know whether we will really be satisfied with His answers.
Suffering makes us strong. God allows hardship in our lives so that our beliefs—those handholds of faith in a troubled world—will became more and more real to us and less and less theory. We can start living out our faith-life in the real world.
Why does God even allow Satan to exist? Have you ever wondered that? As the Evil One says in his own words, he is restlessly going back and forth across the earth (see Job 1:7), looking for trouble . . . looking for lives to ruin . . . looking for saints to stumble. Why does God allow him to carry on? Why doesn't the Lord just take him out, as He could in a nanosecond?
There is always a way out. There is always a back door. (Sometimes it may even be the front door or perhaps a window.) You may think you're trapped and that there is no way out of Satan's web. But there always is! The enemy may harass you, but he can never exceed what God, in His grace and wisdom, allows.
Why does God allow tragedy? Why does He allow babies to be born with disabilities? Why does He permit wars to rage? If God can prevent such hardships and heartaches, why doesn't He?
Did God answer his prayer? Yes. He did make it to Rome and had an amazing ministry there of preaching, teaching, discipleship, and writing. He just hadn't understood that getting to Rome would mean false accusations, arrest, incarceration, and chains.
When you're hurting and no one else seems to understand, God understands. You can bring a burden before the Lord that may seem insignificant to someone else. Whatever weighs on your heart is a concern to Him, and He wants you to talk to Him about it. As it says in the J. B. Phillips version of 1 Peter 5:7, "You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon him, for you are his personal concern."
Here's the problem in a nutshell: our definition of good is what benefits us in the here and now, not in our eternal life to come. In other words, we are interested in what will benefit us temporarily, but God is interested in what will benefit us eternally.
We don't always like to read a verse like that. We would rather the passage read, "Through many days of perpetual happiness we enter the kingdom of God." But that isn't Scripture, and that isn't life. Trials and tribulations will come.
Paul spoke of "the God to whom I belong." In Song of Solomon we read, "My beloved is mine, and I am His" (2:16). As a Christian, you belong to the Lord. You are His. There are a number of analogies the Lord uses to show how we belong to God.
Are friends and loved ones in heaven watching us right now and cheering us on? What "huge crowd" is this? What is this "great cloud of witnesses," as it says in the King James Bible?
If you are seeking fulfillment, purpose, or meaning from this world and from human accomplishments, I have some bad news: you will never find it. There is nothing in the world that will fill the deepest void in your life—not the ultimate car, not the greatest job, not the most beautiful girl or the most handsome guy, not the greatest education, not winning it all on American Idol.
People sometimes ask, "What will we know in heaven? Will we recognize each other?" That question always amazes me. As if we're going to forget everything—or be walking around in a fuzzy cloud of semi-awareness! We still will love, but our love will be perfected. We still will think and remember, but our thoughts will be perfected too. We certainly will know each other in heaven—and infinitely better than we knew each other on earth.
If you found yourself in a difficult passage in life, would it bring you some measure of comfort if Billy Graham called you?
Heaven is an actual place. It isn't an "idea" or a "state of mind"; it's a location, like Miami or Chicago or Paris.
Many of the blessings the Bible promises are still in our future. The hope of heaven and our new, wonderful resurrection bodies is still ahead. But the peace of God? That is our present possession. That is something that belongs to us here and now. From the first moment that we place our faith in Christ, we can begin to experience the peace of God.
An old chorus begins, "This world is not my home, I'm just a passin' through." That is literally true. The Bible says that when you put your faith in Jesus Christ, you become a citizen of heaven because that is your real home.
Believers live in a spiritual dimension — where we walk in the Spirit and know God in the Spirit. Yet as human beings, we also live and move in physical bodies here on earth.
As they were (at long last) poised to enter the Promised Land, God warned the Israelites that the real danger to their lives had just begun.
When you've had an encounter with death — a near-death experience of your own or the sudden passing of a loved one — it inevitably leads to a few essential questions: What is life all about, anyway? Why am I alive . . . and what am I really living for?
If you ever needed an answer for why you ought to pray, that is the best one right there. Jesus told you to.
Raising Lazarus from the dead was a great miracle—one of the greatest in the New Testament. And to this very day, God will work just that way at certain times and in certain places. He will step into your life and dramatically, miraculously, change your circumstances.
Jesus is God, with all the attributes of Deity. But He is also the Son of Man, who feels our pains and our sorrows. Isaiah 53 reminds us, "He was despised and rejected . . . a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" (verse 3). The passage goes on to say, "Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down" (verse 4, NLT).
The fact that God has chosen us, has forgiven us, and has given us free access into His presence means that our existence isn't some cosmic accident, and that our lives are guided neither by chance nor luck, neither by fate nor karma. It means we are guided by His providence.