Just lately several articles have appeared in various magazines relative to the suffering of the Christian.
Strangely enough, the average Christian thinks he should be protected from all types of trouble. Now this is entirely contrary to all Bible teaching, The early followers of our Lord certainly had their share of suffering. If you will read Hebrews 11 you will see how their faith was sufficient to bring them through-safely through, for though their bodies were destroyed, their souls re mained in the Lord’s keeping. Of these early martyrs, verse 38 says, “of whom the world was not worthy.”
Though we are promised the Lord ‘ s protection throughout our earthly life, this does not mean that we shall not have to face danger, sickness and other troubles. It is only as we learn to stand up to trials that we can become adult Christians. In Hebrews 5:11-14 the Christians are accused of not growing up in their faith and of requiring milk instead of meat. Those of us who question the wisdom of God belong to this category.
God knows what is right and best for each one of us. We may not enjoy having to learn our spiritual lessons, but He knows how we can be developed into worthy Christians. This can happen only as we learn to stand up to our troubles in the spirit of Christ. We can always draw upon a bountiful supply of strength for our daily needs. This is not available for future needs – but just for today. Each day a sufficient supply is given. We often wonder how we are going to face some event that will take place tomorrow or next week, but when the time comes the Lord has our supply of courage and strength ready for us.
The Christian often errs unknowingly, for not all our sins are deliberate. Suffering often comes to turn us into another path from the one we have chosen. ” Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts. To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” Prov. 21:2-3. Sickness and trouble will bring a person up short when nothing else will. Many times it is the only way the Lord can make His way known to us. When we are in trouble we are willing to listen to Him. When the way is easy we go along thoughtlessly and heedlessly.
St. Paul had a good understanding of the weakness of the human. He knew how the good and the bad within us fight for the master “I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. Romans 7:23.
All through life, this war is constantly going on. Sometimes it becomes so strong that it affects the health of the person. Many of our health problems of today are owing to this constant conflict going on in the m ind of the individual. Trust and confidence in the Lord are our best protection. We must learn to say with Job, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” Job 13:15.
There is a great deal for us to learn from Job. At the start of his afflictions he was so self-righteous that he was blinded to actual conditions. It required the advice of a real true friend to show him his error. It is rather pathetic to note how three of his friends remained seven days with him, unable to comfort him, but staying there beside him. (Job 2:13) At least they did not desert him.
You may say that Job had a blind type of faith. Perhaps it was, but there are many times when only a blind, trusting faith will bring us through some trouble. Our own understanding is not always sufficient to see the why and wherefore of our troubles. But we are told this will be so lean not unto thine own understanding. In all t hy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” Prov. 3:5
Our own understanding is not enough. Human wisdom and knowledge are not sufficient. Previous experience can be useless. The grays of God are too deep for our human minds to grasp. W e see such a very small portion of God ‘ s plan for us and for the universe. We are only able to grope feebly and understand a bit here and there.
Isaiah has a great deal for us. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your wa y s, and My thoughts than your thoughts. ” Isa. 55:8-9. No human can ever fully understand the reason why God acts as He does. W e , had better not try to reason things out or we may become confused and confounded. There are mysteries we are not intended to fathom. Abraham is perhaps one of our best examples of faith. He did as he was told while unable to see a reason.
Though many passages in the Bible are national messages to Israel , the individual can also gain wisdom by heeding them. The Lord issues a warning. If the warning is not regarded, then punishment follows. The Lord is no respector of persons – that is, the law is the same for all, as we find by reading Romans 2 : 8-13.
Another thing to remember when troubles overtake us is that the Lord never allows an individual to endure more than he can stand. We often think we have reached our absolute limit. If we have, then some form of easing will come,, “For He will not lay upon man more than right.” Job 34:23. Also in I Cor. 10:13 ” There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful; Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
By referring to Hebrews 2:18 & 4:15 we find that Christ has a clear understanding of our trials, troubles and temptations, He knows our human weaknesses – perhaps better than we do ourselves. He knows how we will react to various forms of suffering.
A minister once said that our Lord ‘ s temptations covered all the human temptations that we have to face. They covered physical hunger, human ambition and pride, and He was also tempted to use His Divine Power unworthily. Perhaps this last was the severest of all His temptations. He was tempted ” to show what He could do. “
“For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounded by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope of you is steadfast, knowing that as ye are partakers of the suffering so ye be also of the consolation,” II Cor. 1:5-7.
We have the wonderful prayer of David. ” Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me; then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer, ” Ps. 19:13-14.
If we walk before Him humbly and meekly, s ee king always to be guided by Him, then we shall be cared for through. any trouble that comes and receive our last reward at His hands.
Some reasons given for suffering:
To teach the soul of God’s laws – Psalm 119:67-71 To limit sin – Genesis 2:17
To perfect the person who sins – I Peter 5:10 To reveal the works of God – John 9:3
To prepare for coming joy – I Peter 4:12-13
To prepare for praise at the coming of Christ – I Peter 1:7 To prepare us to comfort others – 2 Cor. 1:3-5
To complete the sufferings of Christ – Col. 1:24
To furnish an opportunity to witness for Christ – Luke 21:12-13