Samuel Zwemer did what God called him to do, but that didn’t mean everything went smoothly. That’s the part of Sam’s story our Sunday School teacher shared today, and that’s the part that confuses me the most. Sam knew God wanted him to go to Arabia and be a missionary. But after he got there, he got terribly sick with malaria. Once the ship he was on got caught in a dangerous storm. Some of the places he rented rooms to live in kicked him out. Some of his friends even got sick and died. It’s hard to understand why.
When I was reading my Bible today, I found a verse. I know I’ve read it lots of times before, but I thought of something new this time when I read it. It’s in Matthew, chapter three, when Jesus is baptized. God says from Heaven, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17 KJV). God the Father couldn’t have been more pleased or happier with anyone than He was with His Son. Jesus always did what was right and never sinned. But bad things still happened. His cousin, John the Baptist, was killed by an evil king. And when Jesus came to the end of His time here on earth, he was beaten and killed like a criminal, even though He hadn’t done anything wrong.
So why did those things happen? I don’t know why bad things happened to Sam Zwemer or John the Baptist, but I know why Jesus let those things happen to Him. God had a plan, a plan to save the entire world, and Jesus knew He was the only One who could do it. He knew death couldn’t hold Him. He knew that once He died and paid the price for sin that He would come back to life and bring life to everyone who believes in Him and asks Him to forgive them. It’s the story of Easter, and it’s the most important story ever told, because it’s true.
God had a plan to turn all the awful things that happened to Jesus into good and amazing things. I’m going to ask Him to help me trust Him that He will bring good out of all the bad things that happen, no matter how terrible they seem.
“Dear God, thank You that You are so much smarter than we are. You can see the whole story of our lives, when we see only a tiny part. Thank You for loving us and for saving everyone who trusts in You because of what Jesus suffered. Help me trust You even when bad things happen, and help me remember that You can bring good out of every bad thing, just like You did on the first Easter. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”
Here is a printable version of today’s missionary story about Samuel Zwemer.