When you've lived the Christian life for a few years, it quickly becomes clear that having faith in God does not automatically mean your life becomes an easy one. Nor does it automatically mean that life becomes hard. It doesn't mean you spend every day dancing through the daisies, nor does it mean constantly fighting some endless uphill battle. There is still the good and the bad, the peaceful times and the tough.
For Christians, life continues to be life, in all its random, ugly, confusing glory. We react to it in different ways. Some Christians fall into the habit of blaming the Devil for everything that goes wrong, from losing their keys to not being able to find a parking space. Likewise, some Christians go to the other extreme, suggesting God got personally involved to make sure there was a short queue in the Costa and that their phone battery lasted all day.
The reality is, while God is behind some things, he's not behind everything that happens, and while the Devil is behind some things, he's not behind everything that happens either. Good things happen, bad things happen, and often, neither God nor the Devil personally caused them - things just happen. However - and it's a big "However" - when you're a Christian you have a promise in the scriptures that says this: "All things work together for good to them that love God" (Rom 8:28.)
Now we mustn't misunderstand what this scripture is saying. It's not saying, "Everything happens for a reason" - that's not the truth. Life can be harsh, random and meaningless. Just read the book of Ecclesiastes. What the above passage is actually saying is, "God can bring good out of anything." That is the promise that Christians have in the ups and downs of life.
The other massive promise the Bible gives us over and over again about hardship is that problems and trials will come. They are not some unexpected explainable phenomena - the Bible says to expect them. They are part of life.
"Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you." (1 Peter 4:12)
"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance." (Romans 5:3)
We should never respond to hard times with outrage towards God - if we do, we are simply showing that we don't know the scriptures, which promise us that hard times are going to come. According to the book of Romans, God uses the unpleasant things that happen in life to improve us on the inside.
This week, someone crashed into my car and wrote it off.
Not only was it was pretty upsetting and inconvenient, it was, for me at least, 100% unavoidable. I hadn't even finished paying for the car, and it's already gone. I can't afford to replace it, and the process of sorting things out with the insurers looks like it could end up taking months. I took the bus in to work today, and I'll be taking it home again tonight.
Did the devil make this happen? Who knows. I'm not going to say he was behind it or he wasn't - I'll perhaps find out one day when I look back from Heaven.
And where is God in all this? Was this part of God's plan? Honestly, probably not. People have free will - which means they can do things outside of God's plan. Things just happen. Life just happens.
BUT - God is going to bring good out of this. He's going to use this to work improvements in me, to teach me how to respond, how to help others respond in future, to teach me to persevere and to be an overcomer. I believe he has already started.
When life happens to you, rather than getting angry at God, blaming the devil, or resenting the people involved, try to keep your eye on the future, try to see the way through, look for the good God is going to bring out of it. You don't have to like what happens, you don't have to say it happened according to God's will, but you can have faith that God intends to redeem that situation and bring good out of it - no matter what it is.
Throughout the struggles, stay faithful to God, stay close to him, read your bible, pray, keep living the life, because the promise that 'all things work together for good' is made to 'those who love God'. But if you're there, if you're right with God in the midst of the struggle, then for you there is nothing so bad that it cannot be turned around and made into something good by your Heavenly Father. All storms pass, and for the Christian, after the season of rain there always comes the harvest.