Suffering – we hate it, but it is an inescapable part of this gift of life. True, some suffer more deeply than others, but we will ALL experience suffering in some form or another…
Natural disasters. Place, time, circumstances of one’s birth; where we live. Economic difficulties. Accidents. Sickness, disease. Death.
Suffering is a given for all who live in this world, even we who follow Jesus. In fact, we may at times face even greater suffering BECAUSE of our faith.
Yes, God allows suffering in His world BUT . . . God never desires suffering to bring brokenness. He is always present and always at work to redeem the impact of suffering in our lives. Notice, first you suffer, then you’re broken and then… redemption!
Satan’s strategy is to get us stuck in one of two deceptive distortions:
I become consumed with myself. I am not good. I am not loved. I don’t matter. I become consumed with my fear, my pain, my shame, my grief. I turn inward and isolate myself – from God and others. Something is wrong with ME.
I become consumed with God as my adversary. God is not good. He is not loving. He is not able. He is absent. He is not fair. There is a progression in this from questions to accusations to judgment of Him. Something is wrong with GOD.
Job, a righteous man who loves God, goes through incredible suffering (at the hand of Satan). He truly loses everyone, everything, even his own health. Interestingly, God told Satan, “You can’t take his life”. That’s a powerful truth in our lives – he may take all my stuff but he can never take my soul! Insights from Job on dealing with suffering:
1. We live in a world at war. Evil is real! We have an enemy who is bent on destroying all that is good.
2. Both the righteous and the wicked will suffer.
3. There will be times we don’t understand why we are suffering. God never actually explains to Job why he is suffering.
4. Theological answers don’t always help. It’s a person’s heart that is largely under assault; not their head. People just need others to be present, listening, caring. They want to know they are not alone.
5. There is a bigger story than our suffering. God is always at work. His timing may be very different from our expectations, but He is engaged. Redemption is His glory. He sees where things are going; we only see where they are.
This is so encouraging for your soul…
So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4: 16-18 MSG
6. Peace and healing come in our suffering when we “SEE” God like Job did (42:1-5)
Lastly, the transformation of Job looked like this …
He moved from pride to humility.
From entitlement to “I deserve nothing”.
He went from talking about God to listening to Him.
From questioning God to trusting Him.
From accusing God to worshiping Him.