In the recent movie “The Grey,” Liam Neeson plays the lead character who leads a group of airplane crash survivors through the Alaskan wilderness. They are attacked and killed off one by one by wolves. When he’s the sole survivor he screams into the sky at God, cursing and begging for God to do something to save him from his fate. An interesting observation is that the movie begins with his failed attempt to commit suicide. But now life has become precious to him. Of course there is no answer from heaven thus leading to his rejection of the existence of a benevolent, sovereign God. He sets out to solve his own problem with his own strength and the viewer is left to choose the ending of the movie for himself.

I’ve known many people like that and have read about many others. They ignore, doubt or deny the existence of God until they find themselves in a situation where they need a miracle and then they look to the heavens and cry out for one. But a greater difficulty for me is why people are willing to settle for deliverance from a temporal situation when God’s sustaining grace far exceeds the short years we spend on earth. I’m always astounded by those who demand God’s grace to save them from predicaments in this life while denying or doubting the eternal nature beyond this life. Salvations from situations that spare our lives here and now are merely salvations that will eventually be denied us all. Surely, everyone knows that the mortality rate for all mankind is still 100%! It is appointed for every person to die. We all walk through the valley of that shadow of death and there is no escape for any of us.

Yes, we live in a world which is often filled with pain and suffering. But God has promised to see us through them all. It’s assumed by the writers of the New Testament that this salvation extends into eternity. Peter sees these episodes of suffering to be the instruments of Satan designed to rip our hearts away from God. They are permitted by God in order to strengthen our faith. That’s why he tells us (1 Peter 5:9-10) to “Resist him (the Devil) and stand firm in your faith.” Further, he reminds us that we are not alone in our suffering. He goes on to say we can find strength because we know “that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world” (we all die eventually). Then he lets us know that God’s sustaining grace is at work even in the midst of trials that lead to death. He guarantees us that all this suffering is temporary and something better will take its place forever. He continues and says in verse 10, “And after you have suffered a little while, (how long? – a little while!) the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”