As some of you know, I am a cancer survivor. I am not a big fan of talking about it, but at the same time I do not want to forget the experience. For someone who was never really sick in his entire life, I really hit the jackpot with a medical trial in May of 2012 when I was diagnosed. It was months of treatment and months of recovery before I finally found some sense of normalcy again.
I have written a few blogs about suffering and even a book making a case for how, as Christians, we actually need to suffer in order to grow. The one indisputable fact about suffering is that it will indeed change you for the better and it can change you for the worse if it is given opportunity.
It Can Happen To Anyone At Any time
Despite years of teaching a Bible study, serving in ministry, counseling and being a church elder, I walked away from God during what was my absolute low point. Granted, it only lasted a few weeks, but I walked away nevertheless and it was done quickly and in the blink of an eye. Did I come back? Well, obviously the answer to that question is “yes.”
It begs the question: Have you, are you or will you walk away sometime in the future? Because of who we are, because of the human condition, we are quite capable of putting God on the shelf when we are suffering. In times of disappointment and trial, it is easy to get mad and blame God for making our lives miserable. Why does a good God allow this to happen?
Despite all the scriptures telling us how we are promised suffering, despite the blessings that will ensue as a result, despite the equipping, maturing, knowledge, character building, perseverance and patience that results, we can still walk away. I am not going to sit here and tell you what you already know.
While there are positive attributes that you will develop as a result of your suffering, there can be times when you just do not want to hear it. Truth be told, when you are in that excruciating trial, screaming out to God with no answers and in pain more than you can endure, you can easily just give up. In the short term, we can certainly overcome and move on.
How does that work when the trial lasts for weeks, months or maybe even years?
When The Pain Seems To Go On Without End
Lying in a hospital bed for almost 30 straight days, 24/7, thinking and over-thinking and thinking again about what was going to happen to me; being unable to move, pray or have a coherent thought in my head was nearly unbearable. Was I feeling the joy, the grace, the love? Not. It was when I was in that pit that I then made the conscious decision to walk away from God because I felt like I just could not take it anymore. Was I angry, disappointed, or feeling abandoned perhaps?
Now here comes the controversy: So you might have walked away like me: big deal. I beat myself up on this for months and then I realized God knows what I am capable of. He knows my limits and He has big shoulders. Just because I walked, He did not go anywhere. Let me tell you something else: When you do come back (and you will), it is a memorable experience.
Maybe you have been in that barren place, that spiritual desert and then you came back. It was then that you rediscover that the scriptures are indeed correct, that God never left, that His grace is new everyday and you have become a changed person. Hopefully you are now that person who has been to hell and back and stronger as a result of it.
Are You There Right Now?
Does this scenario seem to resonate with you in some way? Walking away from God is something very commonly said by those who “used to go to church but…” When you start walking away, it is easy to keep walking. The enemy will always want to tell you that God is too mad to welcome you back. That is when you need to remember the story of the prodigal son. The Lord will welcome you back with open arms. There is no need to stay away another day. He will be there. He knows what you did and He knows why you walked away. You will never shock God or catch Him off guard. Reconciliation is merely a heartfelt prayer away.