Greg Laurie is the senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., one of the largest churches in America. He is also the featured speaker for Harvest Crusades, large-scale evangelistic outreaches that have been attended by more than 4 million people around the world since 1990. Greg is heard internationally on the daily radio broadcast, "A New Beginning." To learn more about Greg Laurie go to www.greglaurie.com.More ↓Less ↑
C. S. Lewis pointed out that atheism’s most potent weapon against the Christian faith is the problem of pain. Sometimes when tragedy happens, people will turn against God. Our human intellect and notions of fairness reject the apparent contradiction between a loving God and a world of pain.
The general tendency is to take all of the bad things in the world and blame them on God. But let me say this: The reason that bad things happen in this world is because we all are affected by something called sin. I am not saying that if a bad thing has happened to you, it is because you have specifically committed a sin to bring it on yourself. But I am saying that sin has infected the entire world, and it goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden, to our first parents Adam and Eve. They disobeyed God’s command, and once they did, sin came into the world. And with sin came illness and even death.
By the way, the Bible never says that Adam and Eve ate an apple. I don’t know where that came from. (If I were Adam and Eve, I never would have been tempted by an apple.) I think it was a piece of fruit that was probably unlike any we have ever seen. Whatever it was, it was attractive, and Adam and Eve ate it. And guess what? If you would have been there, you would have done the same thing. I would have done the same thing.
As a result of what happened in Eden, we now have all of the problems in our world, and bad things happen. Inexplicably tragic things happen. I have two sons: one is on earth and one is in heaven. My oldest son Christopher, age 33, was killed in an automobile accident on July 24, 2008. To say that it was the worst day of my life is an understatement. No parents ever want to outlive their children. And when I heard the news, it was like all the air was sucked out of the room. I couldn’t believe it. I felt as though I could literally die on the spot from what I had just heard. If I could have traded places with my son, I would have done that. He had a wife and a child and another child on the way. But I wasn’t given that choice.
Yet God was there with me. If words could have killed me, it would have happened that day. But it was God’s Word that sustained me. And that is why I can say that whatever you are facing right now, there is hope for you.
Here is what Jesus had to say to those who have troubled hearts: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1–3).
Maybe you have a troubled heart. Then again, maybe you have a broken heart. Things have not turned out the way you hoped they would. You had imagined your life would be tidy and safe, and it isn’t that way at all.
Life can be bad, but God is good. Things happen that make no sense. And maybe it has caused you to entertain doubt. You may feel that because you have had doubts about your faith or about God that it is an act of spiritual treason. But sometimes doubt is not a sign that a person is wrong; it may be a sign that he or she is thinking. As a French proverb says, “He that knows nothing doubts nothing.”
If you are a Christian, here is what I would encourage you to do: Doubt your doubts and believe your beliefs, because we have been given the words of Jesus to troubled hearts. And he has also given us three reasons why we don’t have to be filled with anxiety.
First, he tells us that we can take God at his word. He said, “You believe in God, believe also in Me” (verse 1). In Greek, “believe … in me” could be translated, “Have a firm resolve.” It carries the conviction of a command, but it is also spoken in a gentle way, as if to say, “Keep believing in Me.”
Second, if you are a believer, you are going to heaven. If you have put your faith in Christ, no matter what comes your way in life, here is the certainty you have: You are going to heaven. Heaven is a prepared place for prepared people, and it is as real as any place on earth. Earth is a pale version of heaven, not the other way around. Earth, at its best, is a copy of heaven. So we don’t have to be hopeless.
Third, we don’t have to have troubled hearts, because Jesus is coming back again. That is what he promised, and that is what the Bible says. And just because a preacher claimed to know that date, don’t let that throw you. Jesus said, “For you do not know the day or hour of my return” (Matthew 25:13 NKJV).
All around us, Bible prophecies are being fulfilled, signs of the times saying that Jesus Christ is coming back. But that doesn’t have to alarm you. If you have put your faith in Christ, you can look forward to his return, because you are ready.
Are you ready? Is your life right with God? We have hope in heaven. We will see God, and we will be reunited with loved ones. The Bible calls it a blessed hope.
I know that life isn’t easy. We wonder why some people go through life and don’t seem to suffer all that much. Then we know others who seem to have more than their share of suffering. I don’t know why that happens. But here is what I do know: There is more than life on earth. There is eternity. And for the follower of Christ, the best is yet to come.