Steve Cleary | Revelation Media
Steve Clary with Revelation Media is close and dear to the heartbeat of the mission of IOM America. Revelation Media is equipping and empowering the global mission's community with culturally relevant content that break the barriers of engagement. It is our passion for all our readers to get to know this ministry, as well as Steve.
Dear, IOM Family & Friends,
There is one question we never have to ask God—a question that plagues mankind, erodes the faith of many, and often seeks to destroy our relationship with our Creator.
I grew up in a church that asked this question regularly. In fact, it was their go-to question whenever something went “wrong.”
However, when I met and was mentored by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, who had served 14 years in a Romanian communist prison because of his faith, he said he had never asked this question and wondered why so many people in America and other “free” nations did.
That question is “Why?”
Pastor Wurmbrand taught me that those suffering severe persecution and imprisonment for their faith never asked God why He allowed them to suffer. Rather they asked, “How can we serve God in the midst of our suffering?”
This was in such contrast to the church I grew up in. In my former church, every time something bad happened, the leadership would say, “You need to find out why this is happening.” They would ask further questions like, “What sin have you not confessed, or is there something you have not repented of?” “Where is your faith lacking?” “What is the lesson God is trying to teach you?”
In their minds, if you were suffering hardship then you had done something wrong, and you had to fix the wrongdoing.
I recently read an article about the significant decline of Christianity in Europe. A journalist who had interviewed some of those who had walked away from the church found that a common reason was because they had asked questions like, “Why does a God of love allow so much suffering?” or “Why did God allow such-and-such to happen to me?”
There are many reasons we may suffer, and some may be wholly our own doing. If we commit a wrong, there will be consequences. There are other hardships that come upon us that are through the actions of others, or even of nature, that we have no control over. And there are those hardships and trials that we have no explanation for and we often feel compelled to try to understand why.
“Why has God not healed my terminally ill child?” “Why is God allowing me to struggle financially?”
“Why did God allow my spouse to cheat on me?”
There are often no clear answers for why we experience suffering and why God apparently allows it to happen.
However, I believe when we ask God “why?” we are asking God to answer, and act, like a human. We are bringing God down to our level. We want human reasoning. We feel we are wronged and that somehow God owes us an answer as to “why?”
In the Bible, a common illustration is that God is shown to be the Potter, and we are the clay. Can you imagine the clay asking the potter why it is being pounded down? Taking this illustration further, we read that “we are His workmanship and His vessels,” we are “set apart as holy, useful to the Master…ready for every good work!” (2 Timothy 2:21 and Ephesians 2:10).
While asking “why?” is completely understandable as we face the unimaginable, I believe it works against our faith. It questions our Creator and undermines our trust and faith in Him. A better question to ask might be, “Father, I pray you remove this trial from me, however if it is a trial I must face, how can I serve You, and Your Kingdom, through it?”
We live in a sinful world. We should not be surprised when we see evil among us. This world is cursed. It is not the Promised Land. Our lives are but a breath in time compared to the eternal.
The evils of this world and the trials I continually face only make me long for Christ even more. If we really want to know “why?” perhaps we already know the answer. The answer is “sin.” And, the answer to sin is Jesus Christ and Christ alone!
My prayers go out to all of you who have specific sufferings you are now going through. These can be especially difficult during the holiday season. You may not know the “why?” but you know the “Who,” and He will see you through it!
This holiday season, I encourage you to watch our animated version of The Pilgrim’s Progress. I believe that John Bunyan captured the essence of the Christian life better than any other author. We did our best to stay true to his writings in our animated version of his classic allegory.
The Pilgrim’s Progress is known as being one of the most important books of all time, as it lays out the path of the Christian life in the allegory of Christian Pilgrim on the narrow road to the Celestial City. Dr. Phinney's version is the "Jack the Journey" series and RevelationMedia is the remake of The Pilgrim's Progress. We hope that these resources will bless you and your family.