The trend seems to have always existed that God's people suffer major hardships. Hebrews 11
reminds us of the faith of men and women of the Old Testament, but one wonders why their faith seemed insufficient or inadequate to prevent the horrors they experienced. Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, speaks of being shipwrecked, bitten by snakes, escaping murder plots, and being in constant danger. Others suffered similar or worse fates. So, where is God when these horrors take place? He does not sleep for eight hours each day, nor depart for vacation in a far-off galaxy, so we suspect that he sees all of it.
The Bible states that the trials test our faith and the testing produces perseverance that in turn matures and completes us. If we are indeed headed toward Nirvana, or an idyllic heavenly existence, do we need such extreme testing, perseverance, and faith? And why does it appear that evil doers and worshipers of Satan are flourishing, while God seems incapable of providing basic necessities for his people. Many writers. prophets and persons in the Old Testament have had the same or similar questions.
There was a time when I might have tried to convince myself and others that there usually is an evil or negative thought, word or deed in someone that causes evil circumstances to manifest in their life. But having recently experienced my personal avalanche of unimaginable evil that continues even today, I now view that perspective as simplistic. Having bankrolled for several years this entire effort on behalf of God's people in response to a specific call from God, I am stunned when I mention that I no longer have a six-figure income or six-figure savings, or even basic living expenses, and the response of some of the wealthiest churches in the nation is nonchalant at best. They are witness to the church burnings and bombings and the torture and murders of priests and parishioners throughout the world. They feel relatively powerless to effect change. Yet, not one of them has made an offer to assist me in bringing this renewed message of hope to God's people. I know the many days and nights that I pleaded with God to reveal any sin or evil in me that would cause a visitation of the current evil circumstances in my life. I grew angry at his "refusal" to tell me what I had done wrong so that I could fix it and stem the tide of evil. I recall Moses asking a similar question in Numbers 11:11 ("What have I done to displease you that you would treat me this way?") Isaiah challenged Israel and demanded an acknowledgement of God, perhaps fully expecting that God would reciprocate by protecting him. Instead, he became a fugitive, desperately trying to save his life. More recently in the New Testament, the apostles preached a Gospel of peace, love and forgiveness, yet they were rewarded by being murdered and crucified.
God did not engineer or freely allow these circumstances into their life or mine. God probably sent numerous messages to the individuals and to others, warning them, guiding them, and encouraging their friends, colleagues and acquaintances who are disciples to take action. As I look back, I can see the several instances when God probably witnessed the potential trajectory of my circumstances and literally put incredible real estate deals in my path that would have made me a multi-millionaire. In each instance, I knew they were deals that should not be missed but I allowed fear to stop me. Had I known what I now know, nothing would have stopped me from embracing those deals. But it sometimes can be difficult to hear God's voice and his guidance when your brain is in overdrive and you cannot see the future. Today, God is sending warning signals to others telling them the direction that would be best, and they also are prone to over-analyze the circumstances and maintain the status quo. But today's mistakes can be deadly.
In focusing on the travails of God's people, we tend to ignore the fact that Jesus also experienced hardships on the earth. When Adam and Eve chose to obey Satan instead of God, in that moment they relinquished their authority over the earth and gave Satan authority and control. Thus., each person born on earth is born subject to Satan. Jesus willingly made himself subject to Satan in order to pay the penalty for sin so that we can be redeemed. At times, he had no place to sleep and no money to pay his taxes, his townsfolk tried to throw him off a cliff, he sometimes was forced to travel incognito because of the danger, and of course he eventually was crucified How is it possible that an all powerful, sinless God was not able to obliterate these circumstances before they occurred?
Because Satan is the god of this world, by being born into the world, even Jesus became subject to him. Only when God establishes his kingdom for one thousand years (Revelation 20) will the earth be under God's authority and control. This is the reason that for the past two thousand years most churches have prayed each Sunday for God's kingdom to be established so that his will is accomplished on the earth (Matthew 6:9-15). With Satan in control, not only are his emissaries actively seeking to establish his evil plans and goals, but a majority of God's people also pay homage to Satan in a pattern of lukewarmness that is nauseating to God (Revelation 3:14-19). Nonetheless, if you are committed to God and his purposes, you may be subject to evil, but no one can have authority or control over your life other than the authority or control that you or God gives to them. You give them authority when you transgress God's laws.
Until his kingdom is established, God relies on his people to dull the enemy's power, control and impact on fellow disciples. He understands the trials we will encounter until his return. For this reason, his most fervent prayer is seen in John 17 when he prayed for unity among his followers. In the days of Noah, they were one family. He taught the Jews to bond in ways that empower them in excess of what their numbers would suggest. The first century disciples also understood that unity and oneness was key to their survival (Acts 2:42-47). It is my fervent hope that the sealed men and women of God will become one family, similar to the new church in Acts 2 and will commit to ensuring that their brothers and sisters in Christ who are filled with and sealed by the Holy Spirit, irrespective of their original religion, faith or language, experience only the heaven on earth that is God's will for them. If you are sealed with God's Spirit, God will expect that he can call on you to respond when another sealed man or woman of God prays to him for healing, peace, companionship for the journey, or assistance of any kind. We are expected to manifest his presence on the earth for each other. How will you respond when he calls on you?