So often when we are going through difficult times we can ask, or at least think, the question, “If God loved me, why would He be allowing me to go through this? Why doesn’t He just make it stop?”

I believe there are at least three reasons God allows us to experience hardships:

1. Some things have to come out.

I remember when one of my sons stepped on broken glass when he was about three or four years old. As they strapped him down to the table, they asked me to hold his shoulder down. As they operated on his foot, he was looking at me straight in the eyes, with tears streaming down the sides of his face, crying, “Daddy, make them stop! Make them stop!” As my tears were falling into his face I replied, “It has to come out, son. It has to come out.”

That was one of the hardest moments of my life as a parent. However, I had no choice but to allow my son to go through the process so he could be healed.

There are things in this life that God has to let you go through to get the things that are destroying you, out of you.

2. Some things have to go in.

I hate to say this, because it will sound negative and judgmental, but it is true – there are so many people, especially young people, who have no patience, tolerance of other people’s views that differ from theirs, no capacity for delayed gratification, and an entitlement mentality. However, I think in many cases they come by it honestly. What I mean by that is, due to the fact that there are some parents who have bought into the philosophy that you should never discipline a child, many children grew up thinking life does not have consequences. They are unprepared.

Enduring hardships, which should begin with parents giving consequences to children at a very young age, will cause character to be developed in them which will serve them well for the rest of their lives.

“Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.” Proverbs 22:15

(See also James 1:1-4)

3. Some things draw us closer to the Lord

“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm

If God removed every hardship from our lives, we would never feel the need to hide under the shadow of His wings.

I was meeting a visitor at church last week, and as I approached him, his three year old child ran behind his dad, and peeked at me through his legs as he clung onto his pants for dear life! Without the threat of a scary pastor coming towards him the child would never have moved so closely to his dad.

It is in the hardest times in our lives that we move the closest to God for safety. These are the seasons that develop the deepest awareness of God’s love for us.

I want to close with the greatest anthem of God’s love in the Bible.

“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, ‘For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.’) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Roman 8:35-39 NLT

Do not doubt God’s love for you. He is either getting things out of you, putting things in you, or drawing you near.

John