Monday, October 27, 2008

What Suffering Produces

No one likes to suffer, yet every living soul will experience suffering and pain in their lives. In our humanity we shrink back from the very thought of it. We see the world full of sufferings, and as humans with a fallen nature, we find ourselves blaming God when we go through suffering of any kind. Even those, who call themselves atheists, will in times of calamity blame God for the misfortunes they are experiencing in life.

It is the believer, the true child of God, who is given understanding from God through His Holy Scriptures as to the reasons for suffering. Satan will use suffering in our lives to blame God, to accuse God, and to reject God. We even go so far as to believe that suffering and pain is always the result of sin. In John 9:1-38 the disciples of Jesus asked this very question concerning a man who had been born blind. They asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

Jesus was making it clear that suffering and pain is not always caused by sin. There is not always a direct one to one relationship between suffering and guilt. In fact, there are other reasons that the Scriptures provide: (1) righteousness, (2) obedience, and (3) growth just to mention a few. A non-believer does not understand this; he sees no purpose in it. A child of God knows that God is working in his life, in times of suffering and pain, to deepen his faith in his Master. The health and prosperity preaching of today would disagree with this. They even go so far as to say, “it is not the will of God for any of His people to suffer; in fact, if you are suffering, it is because of sin in your life.”

What does the Scripture say?

“For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake.” Philippians 1:29

“Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” I Peter 4:19

3 “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 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.” Roman 5:3-5

19 “For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”- I Peter 2:19-21

Truth faith is confirmed by suffering, false faith is destroyed by it.

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