SUFFERING AS A BELIEVER
Trials do not come our way so much as to teach us something
as they do to help us to unlearn something - SELAH!
Another benefit of suffering as a believer is that as a believer we can trace all our trials and difficulties to the faithful and loving hand of our God. "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these [things]. And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? Or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? Have not I the LORD?" Isaiah 45:7 Exo 4:11
The world sees the possibility of going through trouble and tragedy as a flip of the coin, mere chance, a roll of the dice, or the luck of the draw, but for the believer we know that even our darkest hour is not about coincidence but is a "God-a-wence." Our struggles do not arise from the doings of man, or out of some misfortune, but are divinely appointed and specifically designed to draw us into an intimate relationship with our Sovereign God. Psalm 119:71 says, "It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn about You." The world's way of thinking is to blame some event or person for their present dilemma, in short they make them selves out to be victims of their environment. But thank God, we can realize that even though we may be the perpetrators and cause of our own trouble, we can look up to the One who is faithful, find forgiveness, and go on to victors. "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us" Romans 8:37.
While going through hard times those who are outside of Christ usually go to great lengths to fill the void and pain they are experiencing in their lives with things. They are more likely to turn to some kind of addictive behaviour. Believers on the other hand having grown from previous experiences understand the intention of any given trial and are able with the help of the Holy Spirit to act in the wisdom that God grants to them. As a result of responding to Him in faith they can avoid turning to addictive behaviours to see them through. They realize that Christ is their all-in-all. Christ is enough.
"Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him - James 1:3,4.
Here is the amazing thing about suffering as one who is in Christ. Although the believer may not necessarily feel any differently than the unbeliever while going through difficulty, and although he may not detect any super-natural change in his attitudes at the time; that is he may not pray any more fervently, witness more frequently, seem more spiritual, worship more intensely, yet in the long run the believer will become stronger, will be more assured and settled in His relationship with his Creator and will learn contentment in all things. On this we have the very promise of God. "But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you 1Peter 5:10.
Unlike the unbeliever who runs from trouble, the believer realizes that he can face his trouble head on. He understands that his trials hold the key that unlocks the door to experience. And without experience we could find the deliverance that comes about from knowing the truth. Rom 5:3,4 says, "And not only [so], but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:" Charles Spuregon wrote, "Experience unlocks truths which else were closed against us; many passages of Scripture will never be made clear by the commentator; they must be expounded by experience. Many a text is written in secret ink which must be held to the fire of adversity to make it visible."
Unlike the unbeliever whose trouble is primarily due to their wickedness and therefore sink deeper into their resentment, the believer still has hope even in this: "Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. Thou [art] good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes." Psalm 199:67,68 - Yes God is merciful even when we have to undergo suffering as a direct result of our sinning. It is out of God's great kindness and love for us that He brings trouble in the form of discipline into our lives. This He does only that our steps might be redirected in His pathways. His "goodness and mercy" truly does follow us all the days of our lives. "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons." Hebrews 12:6
Only those who suffer "in Christ" can the Holy Spirit make sense out of their suffering and use it to conform them to the image of God's Son. WOW! What a salvage operation that is! "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son.. 1Pe 2:19, Romans 8:28,29.
Where do you stand in all of this?
Would you like your suffering to make sense and count for some eternal good?
Are you in Christ?
THINK ON THESE THINGS - ACT ON THESE THINGS