The Overcomer. When Suffering Knocks on our Door, Part 2

the old oak tree in Allouville-BellefosseMetal supports for that old oak treeOne of the chapels in the old oak tree

Over the years, I have encountered myriads of people who have become disillusioned with God for not fulfilling their requests. They have asked Him, some have even demanded Him, for a certain blessing, but they did not obtain it.

Many of these truly looked like noble requests: A healing, a reconciliation ... While others were more geared to self-interest, such as obtaining wealth or a high position at a certain corporation. The one thing they all had in common was that none of these people received what they requested, and none of them were satisfied with God's "no" answer.

As I pondered this, it struck me that most of them were seeking fulfillment of their one request through every means possible. Take requests for healing, for example. They would ask God to heal them, they would contact various faith healers, as well as several different churches, in order to guarantee that their request would be fulfilled.

In talking with every one of these disillusioned believers, I realized that though they knew OF God, they didn't really know Him personally. This became very clear the day someone told me that he actually didn't trust God, but he believed God had no choice but to answer his prayer. Is anyone surprised that this person's prayer request went unanswered?

The one thing all of these people have in common is that none of them show any signs of realizing that the process is much more important than the fulfillment of the request itself. After all, what could be more important than getting to know the King of Kings on a personal level!

Taking the time to get to know Him makes all the difference in the world. Just ask the author of Psalms 91:"'Because he loves me,' says the LORD, 'I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.'" (Psalms 91:14-15, NIV2). This writer saw the fulfillment of his request!

I can vouch for that as well. My wife has been going through some tumultuous times since she was diagnosed with cancer earlier this summer. My request to God was simple: "Give us Your grace to face this challenge together, and may this be an opportunity to get closer to You and closer to one another." I have to say, God has answered this request many times over. The time I have been able to spend with my wife and God during this past summer has become the highlight of my year.

You see, it's not all about MY will; it's about the pure love that flows from God Himself! Is it any wonder that there are so many disillusioned Christians out there? In insisting on the outcome to their requests, they are missing the opportunity to really get to know Him!

Remember: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs." (1 Corinthians 13:4-5, NIV2)

In the early 1600s, an oak tree was struck by lightning in a village called Allouville-Bellefosse in France. I am certain that this tree never ever have requested such an experience, still the lightning burned right though the centre of the tree, hollowing out its trunk.

The villagers thought that was the end of the tree. There was no way it could survive such a trial! But the unexpected occurred. Instead of dying in self-misery, the oak tree began sprouting new leaves and producing an abundance of acorns!

The tree's miraculous survival drew the attention of its neighbourhood. In order to give thanks to the One who made this happen, two chapels were built in the tree. One at the bottom, another at the top. A staircase was added in order to give easy access to the chapel at the top.

Now, more than 400 years later, that tree is still very much alive. It is so heavy that metal cables have been placed to keep its branches from breaking. Funny thing is, if it had not been struck by lightning, it very well might not still be in existence in our day and age. But it does still exist, a firm, living testimony that with God, anyone can be an overcomer!

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33, NIV2)

Enjoy whatever comes your way. Take it as an opportunity to experience God fully, and anticipate what God will do for you next. You are, after all, an overcomer!

Rob Chaffart

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