Suffering is good for me. Really? I know it is a tough sell. To think that God is up to something good when we look around and see our world fail. God doesn’t tell us “if” we will suffer, He actually promises we “will.”
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)
God doesn’t promise us a life of comfort and ease but instead tells us something earth shattering. We will suffer. We will have problems. We will face disappointments and struggles. Yet He makes an extraordinary promise…the difficulty that comes into our lives will have good as its ultimate goal.
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
In the midst of our worst days, we must hold on to this promise. God is working all things out for our good, even when we don’t understand it. A day is coming when He will wipe every tear from our eyes (Revelation 21:4). We have to stand on His promise and believe it.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
This promise is us as believers.
God has good in store!
A shift in perspective is the key. We must fix our gaze on the unseen, rather than what we can physically touch and feel. Suffering is a gift of God, used like a burning fire to mold and refine us.
“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:6-7
Remember the story of the two sisters, Mary and Martha, found in John 11. Their brother Lazarus died, and we see a glimpse of their inward struggle. They could not see how God would turn their situation around. In their hearts, they even doubted. We see Martha say, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21). We know this had to be a tenuous time.
Over the course of four days, these two sisters had a crucifixion moment. Could they really believe what Jesus said? “I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). However, when they looked at their circumstances, they saw that their brother was dead.
We have moments in life when our faith is tested. God uses these moments to stir our hearts. Will God become our greatest treasure as we are stripped of things we hold dear? Or will we cling to the things of this world? Sorrow can strip us of the superficial, and quickly reveal our greatest treasure. It can show where our idols are hiding, and where unbelief is lurking in the dark corners.
How is God using suffering to stir your heart today? I would LOVE to hear from you!