It is important for us to understand that God’s will can be accomplished and he can be glorified in our suffering.
Suffering changes our perspective when we learn to view it through this lens. Suffering forces us to slow down. It has a way of quieting our heart and mind long enough to allow God to have our full and undivided attention. Another way of saying it … God may put us on our backs to get us to look up.
God also can use suffering to build our faith. When we come through trials and suffering, our faith in God is typically stronger than it was before. Suffering has a way of changing things. It is fair to say that without suffering, we would never experience the depth of God’s love, the strength of his power or the wonder of his grace.
We also should acknowledge the fact that there are certain characteristics of Christ Jesus that can only be formed and nurtured in our lives through suffering. Suffering has helped shape and refine the disciples of Jesus across the centuries.
We miss out on so much because we fail to see what God wants to do in us through our suffering. Suffering builds character, resolve, perseverance and it leads to an intimacy with God which cannot be experienced any other way.
In Romans 8:28, the Apostle Paul said, “We know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Are you confident that God is at work, even in our suffering? Do you believe God is working together for good in all things, even the difficult, ugly, ungodly things that happen in our world?
The Old Testament provides a powerful example of someone who went through terrible suffering unlike anything most of us have ever experienced. His name was Joseph. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, falsely accused and falsely imprisoned.
Romans 8:28 (see above) would not be written for centuries, but Joseph certainly believed God was at work for good in his life. After more than a dozen years, he was put in a role of great authority where he could save the lives of many people, including members of his own family. That is when Joseph made this powerful statement about suffering to his brothers in Genesis 50:20. He said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”
More next time …