Suffering: The Reality, Purpose and Promise

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19) 

Oswald Chambers wrote that “when God allows suffering and trials in our lives, sometimes it’s for us to unlearn something and simplify our beliefs until our relationship with Him is like that of a child.” It’s not that we should desire to suffer or go through trials, but we do need to accept this truth because Scripture teaches it. As God’s people, we must be prepared to suffer, because suffering is certain.

            Consider several verses: Luke records the words of the apostle Paul who said; “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). He wrote to the Thessalonians saying “and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s co-worker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this” (1 Thessalonians 3:2-3). Peter wrote in his letter, “For to this (suffering) you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you…” (1 Peter 2:21) and “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12).

            The truth of the reality of suffering however comes with a promise. King David knew of that promise writing “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all” Equally certain to suffering, is not only God’s sustaining grace through it, but also His divine purpose in it. One of those purposes according to Chambers is that we simplify our beliefs. As children of God, we should never think we can outgrow our dependence on God, and often, trials are to ensure that we don’t.

            As Christians, one of the biggest mistakes we make when encountering an unbelieving world is not being prepared to answer the question as to why a loving God would allow His people to suffer. Let us seek God’s Word in that effort and rely on the Holy Spirit to do in the lives of people what only He can. Sometimes, the best answer comes when they see you, His child; display God’s grace in your deepest time of need. When afflictions arise, trust that God’s grace is always sufficient, His purposes always right, that He will be with you each step of the way, and that He will ultimately deliver you from it. You can, because God keeps all His promises.   

Prayer

Lord, thank You that we have Your Word. It tells us that Your grace is sufficient and Your power is made perfect in our weakness. You also tell us of what flows from our suffering, that it produces endurance, character and hope. And of great comfort, You have let us know that You will never leave us nor forsake us. Help me each day trust in Your promises. Thank You for always keeping them.

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