I just don’t believe God wants me to suffer.
My friend spoke these words recently, but that wasn’t the first time I’ve heard a Christian make that statement. I think we’ve all probably thought it. The problem is, it isn’t true.
In too many situations where we believe we are “suffering,” the problem is human relationships. A boss is too difficult to work with. A spouse isn’t responding according to expectations. A child is making poor choices. A friend has suddenly stopped being friendly.
Yes, there is suffering in our world. Read any prayer list and you’ll see it. Cancer, diabetes, heart conditions, chronic illness. Death. Loss. Grief. Pain.
But Jesus suffered more than any human ever has or ever will. He suffered for us. Our lives are never going to be perfect, but because He suffered for us, our lives can be made perfect. For believers, suffering is an opportunity to grow in our dependence on Christ and Christ alone.
Oswald Chambers puts it this way:
"If you are going to be used by God, He will take you through a number of experiences that are not meant for you personally at all. They are designed to make you useful in His hands, and to enable you to understand what takes place in the lives of others."
Consider that carefully. These experiences I want to avoid are not meant for me personally but instead are designed to make me useful to the Lord. Every situation, every relationship, every difficult thing that happens in my life makes me better able to understand what happens in the lives of others and by extension, increases my witness.
In John 9, Jesus walks by a man who has been blind from birth. When the disciples ask whether it was the man or his parents who had sinned and caused the man’s blindness, Jesus corrects their wrong thinking and puts the man’s situation into a much bigger picture: “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him” (emphasis added).
Suffering happens. Difficult people and difficult situations will cause us pain. But God wants that suffering to draw us to Him. He doesn’t necessarily want to remove us from the challenge; He wants to move through it with us, so that when it is over, we are more like Him and He gets all the glory.
Once again, Chambers puts it like this:
We never realize at the time what God is putting us through— we go through it more or less without understanding. Then suddenly we come to a place of enlightenment, and realize— “God has strengthened me and I didn’t even know it!”
Press on through your difficult circumstances, friends. Trust in His strength, not your own. And give Him the glory when you come out on the other side. You couldn’t have done it without Him!
I am a regular contributor to The Alabama Baptist newspaper, and I also write and edit for several religious, business and educational outlets through my business, McWhorter Media and Marketing.
One of the greatest privileges of being a writer is the opportunity to share the stories of others with a larger audience. I love to do that!
Sharing my own stories is much more challenging, though no less important to making sense of the challenges of Faith and Family in everyday life.
Thanks for joining me on this journey! Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or suggestions.
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