I recall a little boy who knew the Lord. One day he was outside when it began to rain very hard. He ran as fast as his little legs could take him back to his house. He was drenched when he got there, and so he said to his mother, "Didn't God know it was raining? Didn't God know I was trying to get home? Why wasn't that rain held off until I got home?"
Many adults have that same attitude. They, too, say, "Doesn't God know that I am trying to get there before it rains? Why does He keep me out in the rain?"
The list of words I found shows that God does know all about our circumstances. I was amazed when I discovered how many passages of Scripture show that God knows everything about us. For instance, Psalm 37 shows that God sees the trouble that wicked people cause His children. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-31, Paul listed the many tribulations he suffered because of his faith. And James 1:2-4 shows that God not only knows about our circumstances but also allows them for a purpose. These are only a few passages that prove that God knows all about every one of our difficult circumstances.
Look again at John 6. What did the disciples experience? Darkness, the rough sea, a great wind. All of these experiences can be ominous, dark, somber and very difficult. But God recognizes them in His Word. God knows all about them. He knows we are going to be in all or many of these circumstances at one time or another.
Now that we have found the facts, let's face them. Why should these things come to a child of God? Be careful here. No child of God should ever ask, "Why?" as a complaint or a question regarding any of God's dealings with us. In that connection the word "why" should never cross our lips. We should only ask God "Why?" so that we may know His will in the circumstances confronting us. But we should never use it as a word of complaint or of questioning His goodness. Why? Because there is no circumstance in your life or mine that is not part of God's directive will or His permissive will.
What are we going to do with our handicaps? I read the words of Paul Hutchens, a man who was being used of God in his pastorate when he suddenly became ill and it looked as though his life work were over. Here is his own testimony: "The highway of triumph if often the low way of tribulation. Handicaps come in handy when they pass the censorship of Romans 8:28. In 1929 my parish was local; today it is worldwide, with 200,000 copies of my stories in circulation. My being laid aside was not a mere detour, but the real highway." [To date "Back to the Bible" alone has distributed over 500,000 copies of Paul Hutchens's booklet on assurance, "The Know-So Christian".]
Thorn In the Flesh
This point is illustrated in a wonderful way by the Apostle Paul's thorn in the flesh. "And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh" (2 Corinthians 12:7). How we try to get rid of those thorns in the flesh! We resist them and long to have them removed. Paul did that at first also. "For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities" (vv. 8, 9).
Have we come to that place? Do we know that victory of actually glorying in our infirmities? It is not that we like the infirmities; in fact, that is not what the Bible suggests. What we want is for the power of Christ to rest upon us. We want it when we do some work for the Lord, but we do not want it to come to us through a thorn in the flesh. We want to serve the Lord efficiently and in full health. We want the power of Christ manifested in us, but not through some bodily ailment.
But that is how Paul came to accept it. He said, "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong" (v. 10). It may take a thorn in the flesh to manifest God's strength in our weakness.
(continued with # 3)