Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
I have a cousin who likes to say that life isn't fair, because if life was fair, he would have no idea what he done to deserve the afflictions, the specific afflictions that have hit him. He was born with specific ailments that would leave him in a wheelchair his entire life. His mother would die in a very brutal way when he was very young, and things have been difficult for him ever since, and yet, throughout each and every day, throughout each and every challenge that he faces, he has persevered, he has persevered against the odds. He went off to college to become the first member of my family to do so, graduated with a degree in mathematics, went back and got another degree in computer sciences, and though life has not been fair for him or to him, he still finds the ability to persevere, to survive, and to triumph.
Life isn't fair. Life is hardly ever going to be what we expect it to be or what we want it to be. And how can we really expect for it to be? We live in a sinful world, an unclean world, a world where evil marks the way, where the Prince of this world has a grip, has a hold on it, where the temptations for each and every one of us, lay as snares and traps to drag us down, to hurt us, to cause us pain. We look at our fellow man with a certain amount of evil, with a certain amount of hurt.
Yet that's not what God intended. Though God knows that the world is unfair and although God allows to a certain degree that unfairness to happen, because He doesn't come with His flaming sword to slay the Devil or to slay evil men, as much as He knows that it is unfair, still His hand is at work. His hand is at work creating a better life for each and every one of His children, each and every step of the way as He guides their life, as He guides their path, and offers them something more and something better, so yes, God allows for certain things to happen and He does so so that we can be strengthened and we can be preserved, so that we can be edified by His hand.
And yet, as much as it does happen, it is not God's will for it to happen. He is at work to put evil to flight, He is there to rescue the most captive and the most pained of human souls. He is there to set free the innocent and the lost, the captives, and to bring His justice to bear in this world, through all things and in all things. We read in the words of the Apostle today to "raw nigh to the Lord and He will draw nigh to you." We are told to cleanse our hands and to purify our hearts, to be afflicted and mourn, to let our laughter turn to mourning, our joy into heaviness. Why is that, if God wants us to be happy? If God wants only for good things for us?
We have to understand that the Devil is all around us and that these are serious struggles, that these are serious plights and serious fights that we have to take up. And there, we cannot just be totally oblivious to the world around us or to the things around us, we have to understand that there are challenges each and every step of the way, challenges that will bear upon our soul, that cause us pain and suffering, hurt and hardship, and yet there God will be with us each and every step of the way.
Look around, look around and see all the glory of God's creation and understand that there is no captivity, no captivity whether of the body or the captivity of the mind, whether it is a captivity of our physical being or of our spiritual being, no captivity that God our Heavenly Father through the love of Christ His only begotten Son cannot rescue us from.
Trust in the Lord whether it is a pain of a sickness, or the pain of a ransoming, whether it is an affliction that bears against the spirit and that causes weakness, or an affliction that rips the innocence and naivete right from our eyes. Trust in the Lord, trust in Christ Jesus, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, and know that through it all we have a Deliverer, that we have deliverance, that although God knows all that is going to happen and though He knows that wickedness will work in this world, His hand is there to work good in your life, and in the lives of all those who are held captive and hostage. Trust in the Lord and in the power of His might and know that you shall never be forsaken, you shall never be abandoned, that He will work His love and His will through all things, in all things in your lives.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.