I have been listening to various podcasts and today a podcast popped up on my phone that deals with suffering. All of us suffer with one thing or another. There are thorns in our flesh of one kind or another, or sometimes, it may be someone who is in our life. We may suffer with illnesses that are seen are unseen that cause our attitudes to be that of a pagan: ungrateful for the blessings that God has shown us. What do I mean by this statement? I mean that God is the One who is Sovereign not only over the good but also over the bad. What we as Christ-followers many times fail to understand is just that. If God is truly Sovereign, then it would mean that He is sovereign over our suffering.
However, we as believers in Jesus Christ do not want to think of God in this way. After all, if God is a good God, then why would He allow suffering? “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). The Bible is clear that God is a good God and that He intends to bring “all things to work together for good to those who love” Him. It stands to reason, then, that whether things are good or bad He will bring “all things to work together for good to those who love” Him. This means that whether we are experiencing good happenings in our lives or we are experiencing bad/hard/difficult/catastrophic/destructive things in our lives God will make “all things to work together for good to those who love” Him. This verse does not tell us that He is going to keep us from suffering. After all, His very own Son, Jesus Christ, suffered for us. How then could we as Christ-followers–those who claim to love God–believe that we should not or would not or could not suffer? Nowhere in the Scriptures are we taught that Christ-followers never will suffer after we have come to salvation in Jesus Christ. Rather, it teaches us that we will suffer and that it is through suffering that we are delivered as the psalmist says in Psalm 34:4, 19: “I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears…Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” Conversely, the pagan will say that his suffering is evil and that there is nothing good that can come from it. proverbs 12:13 says, “An evil man is ensnared but he transgression of his lips, but the righteous will escape from trouble.” This means that we should be proclaiming that “ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD TO THOSE WHO LOVE” Him if we claim to be Christ-followers!
God is Sovereign over suffering. He uses suffering in such a way to help us to know that He is with us. Psalm 46:5-7 says, “God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.” Those who suffer as Christians need to know that God is with us when suffering occurs–whether it is physical, emotional, or even spiritual suffering. God is our strength according to Nahum 1:7 which says, “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him.” See that His goodness is only seen in suffering, “in the day of trouble”, when you “take refuge in Him.” It takes us looking to Him to realize that He will bring “all things to work together for good to those who love” Him. In the midst of suffering, God delivers His people as Jeremiah 39:17, 18 says, “‘But I will deliver you on that day,” declares the Lord, ‘and you will not be given into the hand of the men whom you dread. For I will certainly rescue you, and you will not fall by the sword; but you will have your own life as booty, because you have trusted in Me,’ declares the Lord.” However, this does not mean that the deliverance is just in this life. It may mean that He delivers you to be with Him for eternity. John 14:1-3 says, “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
God does not stop there; He is not only our refuge and strength. He also comforts us in our suffering as Isaiah 49:13 says, “Shout for joy, O heavens! And rejoice, O earth! Break forth into joyful shouting, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted His people and will have compassion on His afflicted.” Jesus Christ Himself says in Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Paul the apostle even says in 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with he comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” What a joy, then, is the knowledge that we are comforted by God Himself even in the midst of our suffering. And part of this comfort is knowing that He is with us as John 14:18 says, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” Jesus will come to us!
So what shall we do with suffering? There are so many verses and passages in the Scriptures that teach us what we ought to do with suffering. Here are a few for your consideration:
But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me. (Psalm 13:5, 6)
You have taken account of my wanderings; put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book? Then my enemies will turn back int he day when I call; this I know, that God is for me. In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? (Psalm 56:8-11)
They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down; they dug a pit before me; they themselves have fallen into the midst of it. Selah. My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises! (Psalm 57:6, 7)
You who have shown me many troubles and distresses will revive me again, and will bring me up again from the depths of the earth. May You increase my greatness and turn to comfort me. I will praise You with a harp, even Your truth, O my God; to You I will sing praises with the lyre, O Holy one of Israel. My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to You; and my soul, which You have redeemed. (Psalm 71:20-23)
Today I am thankful…for the good, the bad, and the ugly…