Monday, August 17, 2015

God Speaks Through Suffering

Suffering in our world began the day Eve took a bite of the apple the serpent Satan offered her in the Garden of Eden. It occurs everywhere and has for thousands of years. Wars, disasters, crimes, and even senseless accidents occur every day.

How we handle what happens to us when an awful event occurs speaks clearly about what we believe as a Christian.

There is a passage in the Bible, found in 1 Peter 4:13 "Be glad for the chance to suffer as Christ suffered. It will prepare you for even greater happiness when He makes His glorious return."

God knows about suffering. He suffered the greatest loss anyone could ever imagine. The loss of a son. His only son. And not in any needless unfortunate accident. But at his own volition. He chose to send His son down to earth, to become human, and to endure unspeakable acts of torture and brutality ending with losing his life on the cross.

If you can't imagine anyone understanding how you feel as you suffer, understand this: God knows. And, He suffers with you, as He suffers with ever single person. He feels each person's pain and knows how each person feels. He has a message for you: there is a better tomorrow. Peace, joy and happiness are right around the corner.

Suffering is helpful when:

  • We turn to God for understanding, endurance, and deliverance
  • We ask important questions we might not take time to think about in our normal routine
  • We are prepared by it to identify with and comfort others who suffer
  • We are open to being helped by others who are obeying God
  • We are ready to learn from a trustworthy God
  • We realize we can identify with what Christ suffered on the cross for us
  • We are sensitized to the amount of suffering in the world

Suffering is harmful when:

  • We become hardened and reject God
  • We refuse to ask any questions and miss any lessons that might be good for us
  • We allow it to make us self-centered and selfish
  • We withdraw from the help others can give
  • We reject the fact that God can bring good out of calamity
  • We accuse God of being unjust and perhaps lead others to reject Him
  • We refuse to be open to any changes in our lives

Christ's servants can find rest and refreshment in fellowship with Him even when their work is difficult and stressful as seen in Matthew 11:28-30 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Meditate on 1 Peter 4:1-2.  Physical suffering, harsh as it may be, can equip us with a new outlook on life. Things once thought insignificant take on new meaning; other things lose their value. We live for God and He watches over us and guides us by His will. "Therefore, since Christ suffered in His body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God."

God tells us to love one another and use whatever gift we have to serve others. Praise God always. Suffering as a Christian is inevitable. "However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name." 1 Peter 4:16

And I shall leave you with this final verse, "So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good." 1 Peter 4:19