A: Let me assure you that I’m reprinting your letter for only one reason: I hope that what I say will help you stop and think more deeply about the road you’re on. Right now, you’re convinced it is the right road, but I hope you won’t let your pride, or anything else, cause you to have a closed mind.
Whenever I receive a letter like yours, I always ask myself why you’ve decided to turn your back on God and rely instead on yourself. Is it because you have serious intellectual doubts? Is it because you’ve been turned off by some inconsistent Christian you’ve known? Perhaps, but I suspect your real problem is elsewhere. I suspect your real problem is simply that you want to run your own life. You don’t want anyone — including God — telling you what to do.
But some day you’ll realize that you aren’t as strong as you thought you were. What will happen, for example, when sickness or the infirmities of old age overtake you, or you can’t free yourself from an addiction? What will happen when you face death and find yourself like those of whom the Bible speaks: “Separate from Christ... without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12)?
I invite you to look at Jesus with an open heart and mind, as He is found in the pages of the New Testament. The greatest discovery you will ever make is the joy of knowing Christ and His will for your life.
Q: I can understand how God might send hard times to people who aren’t religious so they’ll turn to Him, but why would He send hard times to people who are already close to Him? Religious people seem to suffer just as much as non-religious people, don’t they? — Ms. D.L.
A: God has not promised that we will be exempt from problems and suffering, just because we believe in Him. Christians get cancer and have accidents and suffer heartaches just like everyone else. Jesus said that God “sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45).
In fact, we may be called upon to endure even more suffering because we belong to Christ. Jesus warned, “No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20). It may be the simple scorn of a former friend — or for believers in some parts of the world today, it can mean imprisonment and death because of their faith. The Bible urges us to pray for those who are persecuted for their faith in Christ — and we need to heed its command (see Hebrews 13:3).
Does this mean God has forgotten us when hard times come? No, not at all. God’s love never changes; He loves us when times are pleasant — and He loves us just as much when times are hard. No matter what we’re going through, we can turn to Him for strength and encouragement.
We don’t always know why God allows hard times to come to us, but we all experience them, and when we do, our response should be one of faith and trust. Remember: Jesus knows what it is to suffer — for He endured the suffering of the cross. Always keep your eyes on Him.
Send your queries to “My Answer,” c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 1-(877) 2-GRAHAM, or visit www.billygraham.org.