“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”James 1:2-4
With the verses above, I want to describe the situation that a family in our church is going through. The husband is an older man and he is experiencing severe health issues. His heart is continuing to decline and he will most likely need to look for a donor, which will be unlikely.
In the midst of the trial, he at one point fell into spiritual decline. This sickness is on top of a number of other sorrows that he has experienced. His son died in a construction accident at the age of 21 and other children of his have abandoned the Lord and are living in rebellion against Him. He could not understand why these things were happening. One day as I sat with him I heard these words: “God is bad toward me. He is unjust. I have served Him and He has abandoned me. He is very unjust. I might as well be an atheist.”
In that moment, it was hard for me to help him understand God’s faithfulness in this, despite reminding him of many passages about the promises of our Lord. For several days I was thinking and meditating on how a person who had once shown so much love for God could reach such a point?
I remember the day that we went to get his son’s body after he had died in the accident, and I heard him pouring out his heart to the Lord as we prayed. He was exalting and worshiping God for saving His son’s soul, even as he grieved his loss of life. I remember him standing up among the soldiers at the camp where his son was working when he died, and preaching the gospel to them. I remember his words to those men, assuring them that he had hope because of Jesus Christ that He would see both the Lord and his son again one day. And I remember him urging those men to believe the gospel.
As a church we began to pray for him. After a few days I spoke with him again and, to the glory of the Lord I tell you, the Lord had done a work! The Holy Spirit had grieved him and corrected him. He had confessed his sin and unbelief and sought the Lord. He said, “How could I deny the faith by which I have been saved? If the Lord wants to take me from this earth, let His will be done. I am not afraid of death. If He has determined that it is time to take my life or my son’s life, He has the right to do it.”
That morning we shared a great time of prayer and petition before the Lord together. God has His plans for our brother and his family. Everything is in the Lord’s hands—health, children, provision. Sometimes it is easy for us to judge when we see someone responding wrongly when they are in the midst of trial, but it is our responsibility simply to be there for them and try to lead them back to the Lord.