Often you hear people say, “If God is a God of love, why does He allow such suffering in the world?” The short answer is that Man has chosen to go his own way without God. Man is suffering the consequences of his own choices, yet in his un-regenerated mind, he still blames God for the mistakes he himself has made.
Man wants to be independent from God; he wants to be master of his own destiny, and he wants to do what he wants when he wants, and he wants to do it his own way. The late Frank Sinatra sang the famous song “My way.” If one listens carefully to the words, one cannot help but notice the typical attitude of Man toward God and His divine plan for mankind. Man says boldly and proudly, “I’ll do it my way.” It is precisely this attitude that has brought many horrors upon God’s creation.
Freedom and Control
Freedom and control are opposites. If I give you freedom I lose control over you because you have taken control of yourself. Man has a free will, and he can choose freely that which he wants in life. When Man chooses his own way, he takes control away from God and assumes control for himself. In fact God has to restrain Himself from actively preventing the consequences of Man’s bad choices.
If Man has taken control for himself, and is doing things “my way,” why does he blame God for the world’s sickness, poverty, depravity, disease and death? If God were brought before a human rights court, and the evidence that Man has against God be submitted, God would be acquitted on all counts.
There is a certain irony in that whilst the world blames God for its woes, the church blames Satan for its weakness. Like our forefather Adam, we are still shifting the blame, and not taking responsibility for ourselves.
Jesus said the “the gates of hell would not prevail against His church” (Matthew 16:18).
We tend to think that this is a defensive move on part of the church. If you read Matthew 16: 18 in context you will find that the gates of hell are in trouble here because the church is battering them down. The church is the victorious one.
If the Laodicean church of today is it is because the great apostasy has begun and they preach a warm and fuzzy gospel where feelings have more weight than truth; it is a gospel of experience and pseudo spirituality without doctrine and absolutes. The Bible, they say, does not fit the current context of the modern world. The opposite is true; the abomination of the modern world is the way it is because it does not comply with the standards of the Bible.
The Baptism of Suffering
There is of course another reason that there is suffering among God’s children. It is the suffering that we as believers must endure; it is called “The baptism of suffering.”
It is pertinent here to quote the following portions of Scripture.
“Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’ They said to Him, ‘We are able.’ So Jesus said to them, ‘You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism that I am baptized with you will be baptized’” (Mark 10:38, 39).
“For the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ” (2 Corinthians 1: 5).
No one wants to hear this, but suffering is good for the believer in that it builds character and strength into our lives. This Baptism of Suffering is also part of the Sanctification process.
God’s ways are not always our ways, and sometimes God will dig the wells of joy with the spade of sorrow. God is more interested in our character than in our comfort.
IT IS A SIMPLE FACT THAT WE OFTEN SEE CLEARER THROUGH TEAR-FILLED EYES, THAN WE DO THROUGH DRY EYES.
(So often, faith is painted on the canvas of suffering.)
Trials and Tribulations
We need to have a paradigm shift in our thinking when it comes to trials and tribulations.
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Christ Jesus, whom having not seen you love” (1 Peter 1:6-8a).
Trials and faith are like two sides of the same coin, you cannot separate them. Trials produce faith, which in turn is tested by another trial. This ongoing process is sanctification, and sanctification frees us from the power of sin. Often in the grand tapestry of your life, your losses can be of more value to you than your gains. The dark threads of a tapestry contrast with the light; this very contrast is what gives the tapestry its character.
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4)
“I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content; I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4: 11-13).
God’s concern with the outcome of our trials is often not what we expect. Whilst we are determined that the outcome of a trial should be good, God is determined that we should have Christ as our life, regardless of the outcome.
The Furnace of Affliction
Isaiah 48:10 says” “Behold, I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.”The furnace of affliction is not the most popular place for most Christians. However, it is here that God can prepare us for His service, because we tend to learn quickly when we are under pressure. Jesus Himself was tested and endured suffering.”
“Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8).
The “crucible of crisis” has a way of humbling us, testing our faith and revealing to us the true condition of our heart. Religion forces us to cloak ourselves in superficiality; however, all superficiality is stripped away during times of trials and tribulations. Just when you think that you are finally “spiritual,” a trial comes along, and your response is anything but spiritual.
We need to know the depth of our relationship with Christ; circumstances and situations do this.
WE NEED TO KNOW THE CONDITION OF OUR OWN HEART, IF WE ARE TO GROW IN CHRIST.
When the furnace of affliction is seen from the perspective of eternal life, it takes on a whole different perspective. God knows Whom He has placed within us. God is continually leading us into circumstances and situations that will reveal our true capabilities. It is wise to be alert when things are going well with you, and God’s blessings are flowing. If the blessings of God become more important than God Himself, those very blessings can result in a fall. It is a curiosity of the human make-up that when things are going well, we get amnesia.
“So it shall be, when the Lord brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant – when you have eaten and you are full – then beware, lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage” (Deuteronomy 6:10-12).
A closing thought on suffering. Remember that it is foolish to assume that if God is blessing someone that they are automatically in God’s will. Conversely, if someone is going through a trial, it does not mean that that person is out of God’s will. In fact, the probability is that someone going through a trial is exactly where God wants them to be; not necessarily because they are being punished, but because God is preparing them for His service.
“All things work together for our good,” NOT necessarily for our COMFORT but for our GOOD.
Failure can be a good thing in God’s hands. If you will be honest with yourself, you will be able to look back on your Christian life and see that even when you seemed to have failed miserably, God has used the circumstance to build your character and bring you closer to His heart.
1 Peter 5:10 says: “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”
In God’s dealings with us as believers, He will at times supply our wants as opposed to the supplying that which He knows we truly need, even if this delays our knowledge of Christ.
For this very reason, there is wisdom in the Holy Spirit allowing us to fail at times. Failure will ultimately bring us to the point where we give up trying of ourselves and start trusting God seriously.
If our trust is in our own ability to handle our own lives, doing it our own way, we have not yet come to the end of ourselves, and failure is just around the corner. When we cease from our struggling and begin to trust the Father with the faith of Christ within us, we move into a new dimension of fellowship with our Father.
There are times when God will give us the desires of our heart even if it is not what He knows is in our best interest. At times like this it is possible that God will send leanness along with the answer to our fleshly choices.
”And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul (Psalm 106: 15).
When you come to the end of yourself will be the worst and the best day of your life. The WORST because you will quite likely be in the “crucible of crisis,” the BEST because from that point on you will rely on Him who is more capable than you to direct and guide your life with a trust that can only be described as supernatural. Right there, at the bottom of the barrel, there is a door that opens to a new realm of spirituality and fellowship with the Father.
DO NOT DESPISE THE TRIALS IN YOUR LIFE.
IF YOU ARE GOING THROUGH HELL…KEEP ON GOING.