Life: Fire & Rain

    "Won't you look down 
     upon me, Jesus
     You've got to help
     me make a stand."
      ~James Taylor~

Life Happens

Sometimes life stinks. Bad things happen that we have no control over.

We grind along, always giving the best we got while working for a breakthrough, but expectations get smashed and we are left with an emptiness that makes our heart sick.

Words are spoken in prayers that appear unanswered. Mustering every remnant of faith, we continue in prayer, for each day has its own measure of frustrations.

Circumstances arise that surprise us; situations develop that knock the stuffing out of us; relationships unravel because we haven’t nurtured or cared for them as we should have.

Family and friends make poor decisions which set-off heartbreaking consequences. Unexpected news can sneak up to upset the apple cart of our carefully managed plans. A job is lost, a child is rebellious or a dream is shattered—defeat creeps close enough to whisper in our ear.

The tensions can wear us down because there is a truth about life that cannot be sugarcoated: Life is hard, filled to overflowing with fire and rain; fire and rain know no particular boundaries.

Faith & Reality

There was a man who had an encounter with Jesus that for me, defines the human dilemma. He was the father of a son who was trapped inside a living nightmare.

Desperate to do something, anything to help his son, this unnamed man sought out Jesus. The itinerant rabbi from Nazareth had created quite a stir across the countryside.

There was much excitement and many wild stories surrounding the man called Jesus. He made blind people see and lame people walk; he touched people or simply spoke to them and they were completely cured. 

The man came looking for Jesus with his son. The boy suffered seizures that caused him to thrash around on the ground and foam at the mouth. In the throes of the attacks, he was in danger of severe injury. When they brought him to Jesus, horrible spasms gripped the child. 

It was a violent, gut-wrenching scene. Jesus watched as the boy convulsed in helpless agony, and then:

Jesus asked the boy's father, "How long has he been like this?"

"From childhood," he answered. "It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us."

"'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes."

Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"

I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief! That, my friends, is truly where faith meets reality for each one of us. We all have difficulties or hardships in our lives, or in the lives of loved ones, for which there is no rhyme or reason.

We muck our way through life, sorting through disappointments and brokenness, always endeavoring to be faithful and true to what we say we believe, but if honesty was put into action, we’d all acknowledge there are times when faith wavers.

There are seasons—sometimes long and arduous seasons—when hope gets repeatedly deferred, making it extremely problematic for faith to keep rising up. The accumulation of unresolved whys and wherefores creates the conditions for anxiety to settle into us. 

We wonder if God hears or cares about our insistent prayers, our cries for hope and help. It is then, like the father of the tormented boy, we must throw our doubts up at God in the context of belief, having the assurance that he fully embraces our fragility and weakness. 

I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief! How long had that father called out to God on behalf of his son? How many avenues had he tried, how many doors had he knocked on, how much money had he spent on remedies peddled by quack doctors? 

The answers to each of those questions are unknown. What we do know is this: In a flash of supernatural wonder, Jesus healed the boy and restored him to his father.

Neither FIRE . . .
Neither FIRE . . .
or RAIN is any respecter of persons . . .
or RAIN is any respecter of persons . . .

No Exceptions

Life is unfair in its shotgun disbursement of troubles, but eventually sorrows come to everyone. Sooner or later, the fire of affliction burns us; or the rain becomes a flood that threatens to wash away all confidence.

People often live in denial, thinking that somehow they will never have to come to terms with the cold, cruel world. They insulate themselves with a cheery happy-face philosophy that has little or no connection to real life. 

For them there are no morally ambiguous questions to explore because if something doesn’t fit neatly into their rose-colored worldview they ignore the issue. 

Or sometimes, worse than ignoring a knotty problem, they do a soft-shoe shuffle with language that obliterates the common sense meaning of words.

However—and this is actually an unfortunate universal however—there is a hardness in this world that hits everyone. Unfortunate because wouldn’t it be sweet to have rainbows without storms and roses without thorns?

Wouldn’t it be nice to never experience failure? Couldn’t we simply breeze along with a brisk wind always at our backs? Wouldn’t it be lovely to never have to gasp for air while waves of disillusionment crash over us? 

It’d be so wonderful to not have to learn vital life-lessons by enduring the harsh taskmaster, but that is not possible. Life is hard—harder for some than others, but it makes no exceptions for anyone.

"The good things which belong
 to prosperity are to be 
 wished, but the good things
 which belong to adversity
 are to be admired."
         ~Seneca~
 
 "Kites rise highest against
  the wind, not with it."
     ~Winston Churchill~ 
 
"He knows not his own strength
 that hath not met adversity.
 Heaven prepares good men with
 crosses."
       ~Ben Johnson~

Outlook & Attitude

There are those who teach that if we are good and decent in all our affairs, dealing with others exactly how we want to be dealt with, then we can expect that God will protect us from the valleys of life.

That is blatantly untrue. God does not exist to serve us—we exist to serve him.

Nowhere in Scripture are we ever promised ease and comfort. Sometimes, like it or not, God leads us through hardships or setbacks for purposes we may never comprehend this side of heaven.

Through it all—through the briers and brambles that crop up at regular intervals on our journey—God asks that we merely trust him. He wants us to unswervingly believe him—to take him at his word, no matter what.

Our faith-response makes all the difference—even if it is weak and riddled with doubt—our faith-response determines our outlook and attitude; our faith-response is the glue that holds our perspective together.

When discouragement dominates our days, a faith-response that is securely fixed on God gives us the endurance necessary to persevere.

 "Faith does not operate in 
  the realm of the possible.
  There is no glory for God
  in that which is humanly
  possible. Faith begins 
  where man's power ends."
      ~George Muller~

As a metaphor, does fire & rain express the reality of life?

  • Always
  • Never
  • Sometimes
  • No Opinion
See results without voting

Faith & Adversity

A faith-response to soul searching adversity points us to the fact that God loves us so much the he sent his only Son to be rejected, betrayed, and tortured; to die a horrible death on a cross at Calvary.

On that dark afternoon, Jesus prayed in pain-wracked intensity: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

Christ’s faith-response to the bitter path of pain set before him paid the price for our sins; his death and resurrection has the power to reconcile us to God.

The mystery of the crucifixion—with its absolute authority to cancel sin—is the ultimate manifestation of God’s all consuming love.

A love so full of passion would not leave us in a lurch, but rather, God’s love is constantly seeking what is best for us in the grand scheme of eternity. God sees our lives from the beginning to the end; he sees what is around every turn and beyond every horizon.

There is no worrisome detail that will catch him off-guard. He waits for us to ask him to help us make a stand for him. And he isn’t concerned if our heart-cry misses the religiously-correct mark.

Which is good, because sometimes when life really stinks all we can pray is: “Lord, I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

When we do, God bolsters our faith. We are strengthened by the knowledge of his presence as he walks with us through the fire and rain of life.

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Comments 46 comments

msorensson profile image

msorensson 6 years ago

I love the way you make things so understandable, so simple.

I wish I could write the same, and yet, when I read your hubs it is really not the intellect that I use but my heart and so every word sinks, like a balm for a tired soul.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

msorensson - Thank you for your kind & generous words. I am humbled by them. Peace & blessings to you.


UlrikeGrace profile image

UlrikeGrace 6 years ago from Canada

What a hub to start the day with Ken. Encouraging even in its stark reminder of the harshness of life's journey. But that is exactly what made it encouraging...the unity we have in hardship...no one is alone in it...we all experience it in one way shape form or another...to be cognizant of this factor in life feeds the compassion Jesus said to have for one another. Yes, we are all believers in our Lord Jesus, Yes, we are Christians...but we have not yet left this world and sometimes the journey is long, discouraging and hard. As Jesus is there for us, He asks we also even in the midst of our own journey be there for one another...and you my dear brother have just exemplified this for us. Thank you.

This has been rated up, stumbled, and bookmarked...Great hub

blessings to you UlrikeGrace


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

UlrikeGrace - Thank you for sharing here & thanks for stumbling & rating it up. Much appreciated.

"...the unity we have in hardship...no one is alone in it...we all experience it in one way shape form or another..."

Well said. It needs to be often repeated because I think we forget too easily. Blessings.


Timely profile image

Timely 6 years ago from United States

Oh what a wonderful hub...hits to the core and such a comfort. In our weakness admitting wavering strength but yet in our prayers we pray for belief...how true. God does hear those prayers and as a parent comforting their children in times of unrest, so God is pleasured to reach out and carry us in compassion.

Thank you for the blessing in your thoughts..God bless you:)


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Timely - Thank you for sharing words of affirmation. Much appreciated. Peace & blessings to you.


heart4theword profile image

heart4theword 6 years ago from hub

Great Hub!, I printed it out to read to my spouse:) No matter the things we go through in life, will never be more than what Christ went through! God's Love is Truly Everlasting:)


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

heart4theword - Thank you. Glad this was encouraging to you. Blessings to you.


2besure profile image

2besure 6 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

Great hub! I simply love James Taylor! He has a vice like butter and his words are sheer poetry. When I read the title of your hub, that was the first song that came to mind. I am listening to his song as I writing this comment. Great hub! As Christians, though God loves us dearly, we each must walk through the fire and the rain!


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

2besure - Thank you. Glad you stopped in & shared. Much appreciated. Peace & blessings to you.


carolina muscle profile image

carolina muscle 6 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

Nice hub!


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thanks, carolina muscle.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

Very good hub. Yes, God's love is everlasting. Sometimes our time tables are not the same as His and I get impatient. If I can stay in that place of trusting Him, all is well.


shazwellyn profile image

shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain

Life is a difficult journey but the idea is to live it! learn from our challenges and become better people in every way!

Love x


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Pamela - Thank you. Yes, I found that often my timing & God's timing does not line up, but he is always faithful. Blessings to you.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

shazwellyn - Thank you for stopping in & sharing. Learning from the challenges is always difficult, but necessary. Peace & blessings to you.


auntiesam19 6 years ago

Ken,

When you shared this story in service on Sunday, it spoke volumes to me. At that point, you were so real and honest about your own hurts. I think many, many people long for that kind of honesty from people, that life is full of pain, but there's a God in whom we can hope. I have learned, so much more than any other time in my life, this past year that though I may not understand all His ways, I know He is still sovereign. This is where, for me, faith meets reality. "I do believe. Help me overcome my unbelief."


Dave Mathews profile image

Dave Mathews 6 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

Ken my brother In Touch Ministries is one of my most favourite Sunday morning programs to watch, by Doctor Charles Stanley. In one of his telecasts, he instructed.

No matter the problem no matter the difficulties no matter the situation, that we cannot seem to cope with, simply offer it up to Almighty God in prayer,believe it is a done deal then walk away and forget about it and leave it to God.

When the timing is right, stand back and watch God's awesome power help you to solve that which you thought impossible to handle.

The first time I heard this said this way I sort of wondered if it worked. A few weeks later at work, God showed me that it works in a powerful demonstration of His ways.

Ken I think this sort of co-incides with your message here, so I thought I'd let you know about it.

Lovingly,

Brother Dave.


RevLady profile image

RevLady 6 years ago from Lantana, Florida

Ken,

Honestly, this is one of the best hubs I have read here on hubs. It hits us with the downright, gut level truth. As far as I am concerned, you described life in it truest form, devoid of the trimmings that seek to hide it's reality. We do not need to dress it up but deal with life on its own terms, not ours. LIFE HAPPENS!!

"When life really stinks all we can pray is: “Lord, I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

When we do, God bolsters our faith. We are strengthened by the knowledge of his presence as he walks with us through the fire and rain of life." AMEN, AMEN, AMEN!!!

This statement is so important. Christians are not of the world but we are still IN IT and it rains on the just as well as the unjust. We cannot deny our humanity any more than Christ did. We, like Him, will want our painful circumstances to go away, yet also like Him, we must face our difficulties with courage, acknowledge our impotence, submit to His will, call on Him to strengthen us and lead us through.

Great meditation Ken. Simply wonderful for me to read this morning. It has made my day. All glory to God!!

Forever His,


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thanks, Sam. I haven't been able to get that story out of head. It really is where I often live life. So many questions, yet God remains unchanged & his grace receives my doubt and/or questions & covers them with his love & faithfulness.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Dave - Thanks for those words from Charles Stanley. He is a great thinker & teacher. It's always about God's timing, isn't it? Blessings.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

RevLady - Thank you for such wonderful affirmation. Your words encourage me more than I can say. Be blessed & encouraged in all your ministry efforts.

And amen - all glory to God.


allpurposeguru profile image

allpurposeguru 6 years ago from North Carolina

As I read, I could tell that life has knocked you around a lot, but you have learned to look to God to help you get up again. What a dramatic difference between your outlook and the "use your faith to get a bigger boat" teachings I used to encounter so much. Thanks for sharing.


Deborah Demander profile image

Deborah Demander 6 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

Our prayers are always answered. Sometimes not within our time frame, or in the manner we would wish. We must always keep in mind that these are but momentary light afflictions, creating for us a greater glory. We suffer through things in life, that we may be able to share God's grace and mercy, compassion and love with others we encounter along the way.

Namaste brother.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

allpurposeguru - You're welcome. Thank you for stopping in & sharing. Much apprecaited. Over the years I have developed a zero tolerance policy towards prosperity gospel crappola & smiley-face theology.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Deborah - Amen. Brief & momentary troubles. Thank you for your thoughtful and affirming words. Blessings.


nancy_30 profile image

nancy_30 6 years ago from Georgia

I really enjoyed reading your hub.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

nancy - Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Blessings.


E. Nicolson profile image

E. Nicolson 6 years ago

A wonderful, comforting Hub -- and as always timely. Thanks.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

E. Nicolson - You're welcome. Thank you for sharing. Glad it was timely. Blessings.


Mekenzie profile image

Mekenzie 6 years ago from Michigan

Ken, you write so artistically .. I LOVE your craftmanship of words. You said: "God’s love is constantly seeking what is best for us in the grand scheme of eternity. God sees our lives from the beginning to the end; he sees what is around every turn and beyond every horizon." I think of the backside of a quilt .. looks like a mess but turn it over and you'll see a beautiful picture. ALSO you said, life is hard several times ... Have you ever heard the song .. "Life is Hard but God is Good?" You'd love it! Blessings!


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Mekenzie - Thank you for your kind words. Much appreciated. I like that metaphor, "...the backside of a quilt .. looks like a mess but turn it over and you'll see a beautiful picture." Well said. We see the tangles, God sees the beauty of the finished product. Blessings.


coffeesnob 6 years ago

Ken. You did take me back-I was a huge James Taylor fan -he always seemed to sing my heart.

In respect to prayer, answered prayer, belief and unbelief - I can only say amen. I have prayed and seen miracles happen in front of my eyes and I have prayed and watched with never seeing results..I have to keep remembering to say Lord, I believe, Heal my unbelief and I also have to be willing to accept what He chooses to give or not give-hard to find the balance on that sometimes. For instance just last April I prayed God would heal a woman's deafness and he did - right then and there. But my husband has Parkinsons and I only see him getting worse. Oh do I ever have to pray God I believe, heal my unbelief. Sometimes I feel I don't pray enough or with enough faith for him, but in my heart I know that's not true. Anyway-thanks for the great reminder to just look to Jesus, because I know when I pray Lord, I beleive, Heal my unbelief I take my eyes off the situation and put them on the Lord, God Bless.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

coffeesnob - Thank you for stopping in & sharing words of testimony. Our faith-journey stories are often encouraging or give insights that are helpful. May God continue to surround you in his love & grace. Blessings.


Bonijun37 profile image

Bonijun37 6 years ago from Lakewood,WA

Hi! Ken I am new to your hub, I read your message and it was great. God Bless you. I just wrote in my hub about "When Children die before us," because a friend of mine just lost his daughter from an alcohol related incident. I lost my son to suicide in 2007. It is painful, but God see's us through it all. I am so thankful for His great love and that I am saved. I am so glad He is always there for me. I will be coming back again. Thanks for the follow Boni


Ann Nonymous profile image

Ann Nonymous 6 years ago from Virginia

Wonderful hub, Ken! Thanks for sharing this spiritually important info!


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Bonijun37 - Thank you for stopping in & sharing words of testimony. Life is indeed hard. Peace & blessings to you.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Ann Nonymous - You're welcome. Thank you for your words of encouragement. Blessings.


Rafini profile image

Rafini 6 years ago from Somewhere I can't get away from

I really like your imagery - it is something I can carry with me to remind me why I go through the struggles I go through. Thank you.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Rafini - You're welcome. Blessings to you.


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

“Lord, I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” indeed,

Inspirational and make us what life is all about and what we need to DO! thanks, Maita


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

prettydarkhorse - You're welcome. Thank you for your affirming words of encouragement.


SummerSteward profile image

SummerSteward 6 years ago from Duluth MN

"Nowhere in Scripture are we ever promised ease and comfort. Sometimes, like it or not, God leads us through hardships or setbacks for purposes we may never comprehend this side of heaven..."

This stuck out to me... it's so true, and life's lessons aren't for us to debate why did this happen? Why was I abandoned? Why should I believe now? Just for us to learn and be better for it, and hopefully imparting important lessons or hope to others because of it. Perhaps that is the reason for our hardship.. either way your words offer constant inspiration. Thanks for hubbing. :)


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thank you, Summer. Appreciate your words. We learn much in hardship & passing lessons along to others somehow enriches us. Doesn't make the hard times any easier, nor does it erase bad memories, but sharing our stories does help others. Blessings & encouragement to you.


heart4theword profile image

heart4theword 6 years ago from hub

I re-read this hub, not knowing I had read it before. I thought that some of the pictures looked familiar? I guess that's what happens when a person get's older, the memory starts to fade a little. Still a wonderful Hub!


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

heart4theword - Thanks again for the read & for the comments. Blessings.

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