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3 THINGS TO REMEMBER IN THE MIDST OF SUFFERING


We know and trust that God is good because the Bible tells us this. We also know that God loves His children.


So how it that God is a good God that loves us, yet He allows us to suffer, and sometimes quite significantly?

 

In this week's blog, we will take a deeper look into last week's passage study on God's Good Purposes and how this plays out in the life of Joseph the Old Testament patriarch.


If you haven't yet read it, I would encourage you to check it out first before continuing to this week's blog. Each blog this month runs parallel to the top of suffering. You can find the link at the bottom of this page.


 
  • Does everyone suffer?

  • Can we do anything to avoid it?

  • How do we trust in the midst of it?

  • And is there purpose in suffering?


Suffering can result from physical pain such as sickness and disease and from mental or psychological pain. Suffering can happen because of tornadoes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. And unfortunately, suffering can also be present because of human actions. Sometimes at the fault of our own self and sometimes from others as if we were just an innocent bystander like Joseph.


Because of the fall of man and the original sin in Genesis 3, suffering in this broken world is inevitable –for the believers and the nonbelievers. This theme weaves itself in and out of the Bible with a consistent expectancy.


And while I know that this is still hard to wrap our heads around, the relief in the suffering is knowing that God has a plan. Our trust in this doesn’t depend on our ability to understand it. God does –and that’s what matters.


What you will not read here is my prescription or direction on a means to avoid suffering. Instead, I hope to answer the four questions above (Does everyone suffer? Can we do anything to avoid it? How do we trust in the midst of it? And is there purpose in suffering?) by pointing you only to God and His Word...Our only true source that offers peace, hope, and joy in the midst of your pain.

 


3 THINGS TO REMEMBER

IN THE MIDST OF SUFFERING...

 

SUFFERING DOES NOT ALWAYS MEAN THAT YOU HAVE SINNED OR DONE WRONG.


While suffering is a result of sin, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s your sin. It also doesn’t mean it is because of an intentional wrong that someone has done to you. Now while in some instances this is absolutely the case, the truth is that the existence of the pain we feel in this world is a byproduct of the first sin in Genesis 3:6. Upon the entry of sin through one man, suffering entered alongside it. From that point on, sin had a name as well as a consequence. And since that day, all of humanity has wreaked havoc because of the destruction caused by it.


God has told us that trials, tribulation, oppression, affliction, burdens, and pressures are all part of this life, but in the end, He will reign victorious over sin and death. And for those that have endured the pain while remaining faithful, they will receive a Heavenly inheritance where suffering will have no place.

! GENESIS 3:6

“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.”

! GENESIS 3:14-19

The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring[a] and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.” And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

! JOHN 16:33

"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

 

Does everyone suffer and can we avoid it?

YES, all humans suffer to various degrees in many different ways. And while there may be a way to avoid some suffering that exists because of our own failure, there is certainly no way to avoid all of it. And why we shouldn't make an attempt to avoid it altogether is answered a little further down.

 

TRUSTING GOD IN OUR PAIN DOESN'T DEPEND ON OUR UNDERSTANDING OF IT


As we live in this broken world, some things will remain a mystery to us until eternity –but never to God. There are things that our human brains do not have the capacity to understand so in this case –we choose to trust Him because He is good and loves us. And like Job, we can remind ourselves daily that God can do all things and that nothing that we have or will do will thwart His plan. Trusting without a total understanding is evidence of our faith in Him.


This goes for our own despair and that of others as well. Attempting to offer earthly reasons and explanations for the undeserved pain of others, in most cases, offers absolutely no relief...instead, it often brings more hurt and grief. As we encounter others who are struggling, outside of a listening ear and an empathetic/sympathetic heart, the best we have to give is the love and truths of Christ that point them to faith in Him.

! JOB 42:2-3

“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know."

! ROMANS 8:8

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

! PROVERBS 3:5-6

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him,

and he will make straight your paths."

! HEBREWS 1:11

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."

 

How do we trust what we don't understand?

The answer is Faith! This is the key to trusting God in the good and the bad. Our level of trust should never be based on our ability to understand or make sense of the pain. Faith comes from reading listening and seeking the living Word of God. And as we do this, we are granted wisdom from above. This wisdom births in us a steadfast desire to seek Christ in all circumstances, good and bad

 

GOD CAN USE THE SUFFERING IN OUR LIVES TO DISCIPLINE, TEACH, AND GROW US MORE INTO HIS IMAGE.


Our question should not be how to prevent all suffering. Instead, we can ask ourselves how can keep our eyes on Christ and continue to walk in trust and obedience regardless. From my experience, I have seen that the vulnerability that seems to exist in the midst of trials is the place where God has grown me the most because truthfully this is when I find myself seeking Him with desperation (Not saying this is right, I'm just being transparent).


There are times when my pain has resulted from my own lack of obedience. And while sin does not honor God, and it is not what He wants for our lives, He also knows that we will make mistakes. In these times of suffering, I am reminded that God's ways are much better than any of my earthly desires that oppose Him. As I ask forgiveness and repent, God can use my downfalls to teach me.


What about suffering for the sins of others? Is there a purpose there? There have been times in my life when my heartache has transpired because of the wrongs of others. God has used these situations over and over again to remind me of the undeserved forgiveness, grace, and mercy that He has shown me. These moments have taught me the importance of love and forgiveness ...deserved or undeserved. Even more, this hurt rouses in me the urgency and importance of sharing the light of Christ and His saving Grace with others.


And further, suffering for the sake of righteousness is not only purposeful but it's also very expected for each and every Christian. When there is the willingness to suffer for the ultimate good of Christ, we can consider it a blessing to be used for God's purposes and perfect plan. Surrender and obedience to God and His plan most likely will not lead us down a path of ease and little resistance. Instead, there will be trials and difficulties that grow us, refine us, and sanctify us so that we can be better imitators of Jesus.

! ROMANS 5:3-5

"Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."

! PSALM 94:12

"Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O Lord, and whom you teach out of your law,”

! ROMANS 8:28

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."

! 2 Corinthians 4:17

"For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."

 

Is there a purpose in suffering?

YES, there is purpose in our pain and suffering. Whether it is a result of our sin, the sins of others, or for the sake of righteousness...God can use these moments to produce growth and fruit in us that impacts eternity in magnificent ways only because of His power working in us. With Faith, knowledge, understanding, and wisdom we see God through a much more clear lens than before. Not because we suddenly have all of the answers but rather because we know He does and our Faith is in Him.

 

I pray that these truths from the Bible would offer strength and healing during the hardships of life whether big or small. I encourage you to memorize and meditate on them, pray for wisdom and understanding, seek Christ, and share this wisdom with others weighed down by the devastation of suffering.


To read more, click the link below to learn about God's good purposes in Joseph's suffering in Genesis.


 

With the new format of the Joyfully HIS blogs, you will be receiving a variety of ways to learn and grow through the study of a Bible passage each week. My purpose is that you walk away encouraged to intentionally discipline your life for Growth in God. To help with this, when you subscribe below, an email will be sent to you once each week. In it, you will find a free Bible reading plan, Scripture Memory Challenge, discounts on products and so much more.


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