Mike, an elder in my brother-in-law’s church, discovered he had Stage 4 esophageal cancer. His doctors gave him 1–2 years to live. As time progressed, the cancer spread to some of his vital organs, drastically cutting his life expectancy. Mike had been a pillar at the church for many years. He was loved and respected by all the people there, and he helped my brother-in-law and sister smoothly transition into the pastorate. The church was growing. Great things were happening. The future seemed bright. However, six months after the diagnosis, he died, leaving a huge void at the church.

To this day, no one knows why God allowed Mike to die so early in his life, but we can see God’s hand in the aftermath of the tragedy. Several of Mike’s family started attending church before he passed away, and they have been faithful ever since. Hundreds in the community including Amish farmers attended his visitation and funeral services, hearing the good news of the gospel, and many believing in Jesus as Savior. I know Mike couldn’t see this coming. No one could — except for God. He was working all along.

In the painful times of life, only God can see the end result, the big picture. He is the only One who knows how all things will work together for good when it’s over. Our greatest consolation amidst these trials is not found in anticipating a good outcome; but in understanding that God knows the outcome, and leaving it in His hands — that’s faith.

You may be facing an intense trial, and the first thing which comes to mind is the pain of the ordeal. How long must you press through the agony before it pushes you to the breaking point? When will it end? Though you try to stay positive about the situation, this becomes increasingly difficult with each passing day. At the point of despair, you are ready to throw up your hands and concede defeat. Remember Mike’s story, and take courage. God is still working. He knows what lies beyond your trail of tears. Put it in His hands right now.

For more on understanding why God allows pain and tragedy in our lives, read Why Life Hurts by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.

Devotional by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.