A favorite childhood memory came at my older sister Laura’s expense. She taught me something I’ve passed down to my own children. I couldn’t have been more than three when she took me on a tour of our house, pointing out all the electrical outlets with the cautionary word, bites!” The bite she had received earlier that day was something she wouldn’t allow herself to forget. Though it was painful, she turned it into a positive learning experience for both of us. We laugh about it today, and my kids not only know to avoid electrical outlets, but they also know the story of their Aunt Laura when she was a little-girl-big-sister.
Pain can be our best instructor if we can handle painful experiences well. But the “bite” of an electrical outlet is mild compared to some of the “bites” we may endure. Life’s tragedies challenge even the most devout believers. The largest part of the challenge is to constructively handle them. How much more difficult it must be for those who do not know Jesus! People whose worldview isn’t centered on a loving Savior might see life as no more than a series of painful experiences, culminating in a painful death.
Pain is a prison that grips most people at some point, but for those who are seeking, it could be a penitentiary that leads to God.
I hope that will be the case with Robin. I met him at a correctional facility in the Washington, D.C., area after he requested a visit from a rabbi. The chaplain’s office contacted a local rabbi, but for whatever reason, he was unable to come. So they contacted me.
When I arrived, I immediately explained to Robin that I am not a rabbi but a representative of Jews for Jesus. He was obviously disappointed at first, but he was grateful that I had come. As I told Robin about my journey of faith, he nodded politely. “I’m not sure there is any God,” Robin finally said. His journey of unbelief was paved with personal sorrow: the death of a parent, the loss of his job as a pilot, his struggles with cancer and much more. He had called for a rabbi in an attempt to make some sense of all the suffering.
I told him, “I don’t have pat answers to suffering, Robin, but I do know that God can work together all the things in our lives for good if we just let Him.” I opened my Bible and we read Psalm 73, where David is shown struggling over the oppression of the righteous and the success of the wicked. Robin took particular note of verse 17: “Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end.”
We prayed together, and I asked God to help Robin see His perspective of life and pain. Robin thanked me and told me he’d like to meet with me again. Over the last seven months, we’ve continued to meet every couple of weeks for regular Bible lessons. Robin no longer doubts the existence of God, but he is wary of making a commitment to God’s truth because he (Robin) would no longer be in control of his life. How ironic that seems in light of the circumstances under which I visit him.
Please pray for Robin, that God might indeed reveal Yeshua to him and that he might know what Yeshua meant when He said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”