Can Hard Times Be a Blessing?
Updated: Jun 24, 2022
“Sometimes God presses us with bad times.” Nader Alaraj.
What do you call someone who’s lived in three different countries and has been driven out of two of them? A Palestinian.
Nader Alaraj is a Palestinian, born in Kuwait. How does a man from Palestine end up in Kuwait? it happens when, in 1948, your family is forced to leave their home in what was Palestine but is now Israel. You think you have found a new home in Kuwait, and then, Iraq invades Kuwait; the Palestinians are on the wrong side, and you are forced to leave once more. So, when Nader was fifteen years old, he and his family were forced to find a “temporary” home in the country of Jordan; however, they kept the keys to their (now Israeli) home and family farm, the farm they had owned for generations – hoping someday to return. It would be like Russia invading Alaska, forcing Americans to get out, so that Russians could move into their houses and take over their businesses. What would you do?
What do you do when bad times come? Nader’s family had been Christians for centuries. The faith of some Palestinian Christians became cold. Nader was one of those. He did well in school, and wanted to help humanity, but he questioned who God was and why was this happening to Christians like him?
He was given a chance to come to America to study health care at a university in Ohio. Not everyone in America values immigrants, especially immigrants from the Middle East. He did not make many friends in America. He was lonely; he began questioning himself. But he stuck with school, graduated and became a medical technician. He found a job – but the people at work were suspicious of Nader, made accusations against the Arab, and taunted him. He reached a low point, wondering who he was and what his purpose was. This was a dark time.
Finally, under an oppressive load of self-doubt, he fell on his knees and did something he hadn’t done for quite some time: he prayed. “I fully want to follow you in your steps. You lead me Lord Jesus.” And a strange thing happened: the room he was in became “warm.” At the end of the prayer, Nader was a new person – he became, he says, “joyful.”
The joyful Nader came to the conclusion that sometimes God presses us with bad times, with the hope we will ask, “What does God have in mind for me?” And with that in his mind, Nader sought God, until he discovered that, all along, God had been searching for Nedar.
Nader sought out other Arab Christians, helped form a midwest Arabic Christian Fellowship. He matured spiritually, studying the Bible, worshipping God, praying with other Palestinian brothers and sisters in Christ. Today Nader is a missionary in Minnesota, seeking out Palestinians and other Arabic speaking people with whom he can share the love of Jesus. It is much easier to share Christ with Arabs when they are in this country than back home in the Middle East.
Haven’t we all at sometime felt like Nader? The family of Lazarus did. “Lord,” Mary said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21). And Jesus responds, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”
If God can raise a man like Lazarus from the dead, He can raise us up out of every awful situation. I am convinced, no great accomplishment has ever occurred without some great sacrifice. God made the Great Sacrifice for us. Jesus’ death on Calvary paid the price for all of our faithlessness, all our questioning God and His motives. We are forgiven.
God keeps searching for those whom He wants to serve Him. He also promises them, “Lo (pay attention) I am with you always.”
Nader reminds us of God's command
Watch Nader's complete interview