the Hope of Survivors

It’s the Trials...—Steve Nelson

(From the April 2006 edition of HopeSpeak)

It often seems that either just prior to, or on the heels of, a spiritual high point, we suffer some form of discouragement or trial. These trials are often what God allows us to endure in order to test our faith and bring us into closer dependence upon Him. It was just such a time as this that we rediscovered God’s love and care for us—His children.

Samantha and I had just finished taping a program for The Hope of Survivors ministry and we knew God was going use this program to bring the light of truth to many who are in darkness and despair. Because of His leading, we could see how it would bring hope to those who have been torn apart by pastoral sexual abuse and are now searching to find their way back to wholeness and to Christ.

It did not take long, less than a day, before we started to see how Satan was angry and wanted to vex and annoy us. Samantha became sick the afternoon of the taping and that night the annoyances increased. We have a very wonderful, sweet, loving dog who has suffered some setbacks to her health this year, but had been progressing very well. About 12:00 am she woke up and started to make noises and would not settle down. We tried for some time to get her to lie down, but she would not. After several hours of intermittent sleep, we finally put her out of the room and tried to catch a few winks before getting up for work. Needless to say, we woke up very tired, but still thanking God for not allowing her to get worse.

We have come to accept the fact that every time we take a stand or raise our voices for truth, we anger the enemy of God. If this minor annoyance was all we were to suffer for this program, then we felt very blessed indeed. But we were soon to see that would not be the case, for the Bible tells us in 2 Timothy 3:12, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

You see, when you serve God, you will always be under the enemy’s attack. There will never be a time that you will not come under his fire. Many of you who are reading this know full well what I am referring to because you, too, have been the object of his wrath or, as one writer put it, you have felt the “ire of the Dragon.”

Sometime prior to doing a work for God the devil will try to stop, if possible, God’s plan. This was true in our case as well. The week before our taping, Samantha had a severe asthma attack that made it necessary for us to take her to the emergency room. Fortunately, she was able to receive treatment and return home four hours later. She is dealing with the effects of living in the Midwest and all of the difficulties this climate presents to those who have allergies and asthma.

Now, some of you may be thinking, “all people have difficult times, all people get sick or, worse, suffer pain and even loss.” This is true. Much could be said about living in a world of sin (being on the battlefield) and suffering because of sin, rather than the suffering that comes as a direct result of standing for truth.

Right now, as I am typing this message to you, we are sitting in a hospital room because of yet another attempt to discourage our efforts to serve the Lord. On the day before the program was to air, I went to work as usual. The only difference was the tight feeling in my chest that I had felt while getting ready that morning. I excused it as probably the result of the flu bug that was going around and decided to just take a little extra Vitamin C to help boost my immune system and hopefully not get sick.

As I climbed the stairs to the second floor where my office was, I noticed my head started spinning and my heart seemed to be racing. I sat down in the office waiting for worship to start and one of my co-workers came in and asked me if I was ok. I told her how I felt and she asked if I wanted her to check my pulse. After checking it, she noticed it was high and suggested we call someone else to come check on me who used to work as a paramedic. Needless to say, it was recommended that I go to emergency and have it checked out as a safety precaution.

After many tests, and the loss of what seems like most of my blood, it was determined that I am fine and will live to have other annoying attacks from the enemy. I praise God for how He is able to turn what was meant for evil into something for His glory and our eternal good. I am reminded of the text in Romans 5:1-5, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” God has a purpose in all things.

Many of you are suffering right now because of what someone has done to you. You may not realize this, but when you became a part of the family of God you left the ranks of the “prince of this world” and enlisted in God’s army. Many people laugh and scoff at Christians. It is no small matter to change sides and go against the flow of the world. The attacks will be fierce and the trials will seem insurmountable at times.

It is not because you are weak that you have been beaten down by Satan’s attacks. It is because God desires for you to become strong and He will use these trials to refine and strengthen you, if you’ll let Him. My grandfather used to tell me religion was fine for my uncle because he needed a crutch. It was not until my grandfather was on his deathbed, facing his own mortality, that he, too, realized his need of a Savior.

It helps to remember you are no longer your own. You’ve been “bought with a price.” That price was the highest price Heaven could pay. The ransom for your salvation was an infinite cost—the death of Jesus. It is only when we view our trials in the shadow of the Cross of Calvary that we begin to grasp a glimpse of the whole picture.

What you are enduring right now could possibly be the most difficult trial you have ever faced. Maybe you’re the husband whose wife has left you because of the lies told to her and the deception she is under. Or maybe you’re the wife or single woman who has just now come to the realization that you have been betrayed by someone you trusted with the most intimate details of your life and now you feel alone, betrayed and confused.

I can only point you to the One who, by His mercy, love and grace, saved us from the same devastation you are now enduring. The road ahead of you is not easy. There are probably no shortcuts back to where you came from. But you do not have to go back. This may seem like a great setback, but it is not a loss, only a detour. A detour that will take you down a road you never would have traveled if you were given the chance to choose the destiny of your life for yourself. The good news is that we have been down this road before you and can, with complete confidence, tell you that the One who brought us out of hopelessness and despair will, if you let Him, do the same for you.

The good news is God has not left you alone to face these trials on your own. There is a precious promise in Deuteronomy 4:29-31, “But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; (For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.”

Friends, no matter what the devil has in store for us, we will take our stand with Joshua and exclaim, as he did in Joshua 24:15, “but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” I encourage you to do the same.

The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart...Psalms 34:18