The Reality of suffering
“Man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward.” That is a true statement made to Job by one of his false comforters. Certainly it is a truth of which we are all aware. Though I rejoice at the birth of babies; I also grieve for them as I think of a lifetime of trouble that awaits them.
Suffering of believers and unbelievers is a fact of life in this present sin-cursed world. Listen to Paul in Romans 8:22-23 “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, that is, the redemption of our bodies.” Would you notice here that the Christian’s body is still as much under the curse of sin as the unbeliever’s body? Our souls are redeemed. We are bound for Heaven, but while we live on this earth, we continue to experience the curse of sin in our bodies.
Reasons for suffering
Sometime we suffer for wrong doing. Take it patiently and learn from it. However, sometimes we suffer for doing right. Peter writes of this in I Peter. 2:20-23 “For what glory is it, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called; because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that ye should follow His steps; Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth. Who, when He suffered, He threatened not, but committed Himself to Him who judgeth righteously.”
Our Response to suffering
Listen to the godly response of the Psalmist to affliction and agree with him. “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept Thy Word. It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn Thy statutes.” Psalm 119:67,71
The Rewards of suffering
As we saw in the last verse, suffering can draw us to Christ and His Word. That is what sanctification is all about. Listen with your heart to I Peter 5:10 “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strength, settle you.” Dear suffering Christian, are you beginning to see the blessing of suffering?
Another reward that comes to those who suffer for their stand for Christ is that in the future we will reign with Him. II Timothy 2:12 “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him: if we deny Him, He also will deny us.”
The Relief from suffering There is coming a day when we are going to be released from these sin-cursed bodies. Read II Corinthians 5:1-8 addressed to Christians and let me summarize it for you. We know that when we die, our souls immediately go to Heaven to be with Jesus. Our bodies eventually turn to dust. In the meantime we groan with pain at times in these bodies and we long to be with Jesus. It’s not that we are anxious to die. No one in his right mind looks forward to dying, but our assurance of Christ’s resurrection gives us confidence to face death, knowing that to be absent from our bodies is to immediately be in the presence of Jesus.
If you do not yet have that blessed assurance of Heaven when you die, I urge you to read the rest of II Corinthians 5 and discover how simple it is to trust Christ and have that assurance today.
God is at work in the life of every Christian beautifying us and fully equipping us to serve Him. Every circumstance He allows us to face is for our good and for His glory. Romans 8:28 The church is not only a spiritual health clinic, but it is also a beauty salon. Faithful pastors and teachers are not only spiritual doctors, but also spiritual beauticians who use God's Word to deal with spiritual infirmities and to remove spots and blemishes from our lives. Ephesians 4:11-13; 5:25-27
When it comes to our natural bodies, most of us have the good sense to go to our doctor or health practitioner who examines us and tells us the truth about ourselves and prescribes the remedy. However, when it comes to spiritual needs, many Christians avoid preachers who tell them the truth about their spiritual ills and prescribe for them Biblical solutions. Instead, they flock to those preachers who tell them what they want to hear about themselves, help them feel good about themselves and provide for them exciting "worship experiences". II Timothy 4:2-4
Why does God allows difficult circumstances in our lives?
When confronted by Biblical truth we all make a choice. We either receive the truth and become better, or we reject the truth and become bitter. When the child of God rejects the truth, God in His love for us, takes more drastic measures by allowing disappointments and often tragedies in our lives. It's times like this that we have the opportunity to submit to God and become better Christians, or else we rebel against Him and become bitter Christians. Hebrews 12:5-17
In the past year you have no doubt faced some difficult circumstances that are absolutely beyond your control. Some of you have had to deal with some unreasonable, cruel people in your life. How have you responded to this? Do you feel that you have been tossed around by an uncaring God and have you grown bitter; or have you recognized these unkind, uncaring people and difficult circumstances as God's tools to make you more saintly?
How can we attract people to Jesus?
If we are to be winsome to the lost, attract people to Jesus and reflect His glory, we must radiate the beauty of Christ. in all our relationships with others. Ask God to remove all trace of bitterness from your life. Get under the faithful preaching of the Word, submit yourself to God and let Him make you a better Christian.
Albert Orsborn wrote a little chorus we used to sing as young people.
Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me,
All His wonderful passion and purity;
Oh, Thou Spirit Divine,
All my nature refine
Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.
"He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." Malachi 3:3
This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and caused them to wonder about the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out about the process of refining silver and get back to the group.
That week the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up.
He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were the hottest so as to burn away all impurities. The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot as she thought about that verse, "He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver."
She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.
The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?"
He smiled and answered, ""Oh, that's easy- when I see my image in it."
If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has his eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you.
A friend shared this anonymous email with me and I share it with you. Let me add a comforting truth from Job 23:10 Job in the midst of his severe trials was able to say, "But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold."