I heard a story on the radio last year about a woman who had recently lost her twelve-year-old daughter after a long battle with cancer. The woman, a self-professed Christian, was asked how she managed to go through the difficult time of watching her child waste away toward an inevitable death. She replied, "I tried to pray constantly, but I found that the words would never come out. I didn't know what to say, so I just said, over and over, 'I trust You. I trust You.'"
Faith is easy when everything is going our way, but it's "faith" only in the same way that courage can be called courage when we're sitting on our living room sofa watching a lion stalk its prey on television, as opposed to actually being there, in the flesh, watching it stalk its prey from three feet away. In other words, the truest test of faith comes during times of hardship.
There's joy in knowing that, however; for faith cannot exist without trust, and trust cannot exist without a strong belief in God. By saying "I have faith in you, God," you announce your belief in Him, your trust that He knows best, and your confidence that He will lead you through whatever particular season you are going through.
If you struggle to have that kind of faith, it might help to remind yourself that God is not responsible for suffering. 1 Corinthians 14:33 states, "For God is not a God of confusion but of peace" while 1 John 1:5 says, "God is light and in Him is no darkness at all."
Natural disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy or the earthquakes in Japan, leave non-believers and believers alike scratching their heads and wondering how God fits in. The important thing to remember is that nature has no agenda; it doesn't differentiate. Yes, God created the laws that nature follows, but He doesn't direct the devastation. When Elijah was told to meet God at Horeb, 1 Kings 19:11-12 tells us: "[...] the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice." God wasn't the wind, He wasn't the earthquake, and He wasn't the fire. He was the still, small voice!
Yet, just because God isn't the architect of evil or tragedy, doesn't mean He can't use those things for His good. Time and time again, we read about people triumphing in the face of adversity. Who can say with certainty that they know why certain groups of people are brought together during times of trial? God knows, and His timing is perfect.
As Christians, we can strengthen our faith by studying what Jesus taught us through His life and sacrifice: There is no suffering without hope (Romans 5:3-5), no burden without rest (Matt. 11:28-30), no cross without resurrection.
Because of this, in Him, there can forever be faith: "I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken." - Psalm 16:8 (ESV)
John has been a freelance writer, musician, columnist and critic. His work has appeared in print, as well as on sites such as ScifiWatch and HorrorWatch, where he was known mostly for his sarcastically humorous, in-depth reviews of Asian films.
Yet, none of those things define him now. After reconnecting with his faith a few years ago, John has let those other sites, and his previous work, fade away. "While they still remain archived on the web," he states, "for me, they are a reminder of a life that was lived only for me and, so , had no real value."
Now he is a Child Advocate, blogger, and sponsor for Compassion International, a newly ordained Elder for First Presbyterian Church on Westfield, NY and, he says, "a much better person."