PSALM 119:67 – Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.”
THEME OF THE DAY: THE GIFT OF SUFFERING. I wonder how many of us would answer my following statement with an affirming and resounding “Yes, I knew that and I do embrace my seasons of suffering as such.” Now the statement backed up by the Word of God through the pen of the Apostle Paul – “Like faith in Christ, suffering is a choice gift God gives to all His children.” A gift? Suffering? It is true as we read in the opening chapter of the New Testament letter to the Philippians – For it has been given to you on Christ’s behalf not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him (Philippians 1:29).
If suffering, in all its various forms – physical, spiritual, emotional – are gifts of God, and they are, how should we respond in ways that honor the Gift-giver? Here are three things which are to shape our minds, hearts, and wills enabling us to please Him when the gift of suffering is upon us.
First, understand suffering reveals our weaknesses and thus inability to handle it, and anything else in our lives, in the strength of self. The testimony of the Apostle Paul affirms this work of suffering – For we don’t want you to be unaware, brothers, of our affliction that took place in Asia: we were completely overwhelmed—beyond our strength —so that we even despaired of life (2 Corinthians 1:8). If we are to know and experience the power of Christ in our lives we must be empty of self-sufficiency and suffering will do that work in us.
Next, see that the gift of suffering moves us to total dependency upon our God – Indeed, we personally had a death sentence within ourselves, so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a terrible death, and He will deliver us. We have put our hope in Him that He will deliver us again (2 Corinthians 1:9-10). Once suffering shows us our weaknesses, it drives us to earnestly seeking the God, not only of all comfort, but all strength. And that is when and where we discover the true Christian life – our union in Christ and the power of His death and resurrection enabling us to welcome, even embrace, the gift of suffering!
Finally, and perhaps the greatest work the gift of suffering does in our lives, is it weans us from the love of the world and its pleasures. Pain purges and it purges us from earthly comforts to seek the Presence of the God of all comfort. Suffering intensifies our longing for our Suffering now Glorified Savior. Like the Apostle Paul languishing in a Roman prison of suffering, we proclaim the same deep heart cry from our suffering – If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better (Philippians 1:21-23).
So, the gift of suffering – Do we believe it? Do we live it? How we respond to those questions reveals if God’s gift of suffering is or is not doing its wonderful and good work in us!
PRAYER: “Father, help me to see in my pain, Your Hand doing a good work in me through my pain.”
QUOTE: “Suffering is not God’s lack of love for us, but an expression of His love for us. He knows the good in it.”
Because of Him,