16 July 2007

A Few Thoughts on Suffering

I was privileged to hear a very fine sermon on suffering yesterday by Dr. Dave Collings at Christ Church, Columbia Station, Ohio. A couple of take-aways for me were 1) we live in a world that does everything that it can to avoid suffering. It believes more knowledge will help avoid suffering but just the opposite is true. A simple example of this is that to be healthy we must exercise and for many of us exercise is suffering. The point is, though, more knowledge actually brings more suffering. 2) Suffering is difficult to live through whether it be mental or physical suffering. But when it is over we can say that it was sweet as it drew us nearer to the Lord in some way and we experienced God's grace to a new degree. I experienced this myself some years ago going through a painful back surgery. Looking back I see God's grace in that time, drawing me nearer to Him and our family closer together.

More than that, 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. Romans 5:3-5.

1 comment:

Jim said...

Thank you for sharing this. I can relate.

Clearly, Scriptures reveals that no trial, no disease or illness, no accident or injury reaches us apart from God's permission. It is clearly that God may not initiate all our trials, including diseases, birth deformities and injuries, but by the time they reach us, they are His will for us for whatever time and purpose that He determines. When Satan, other people, or accidents bring us sorrow, we can answer like Joseph to his brothers who sold him into slavery, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” God takes no pleasure in our suffering.

God's purpose in redemption was not to make people’s lives happy, healthy and free of trouble; His purpose was to rescue them from sin then conform them from the inside out to the image of His Son by the power of His Spirit. Suffering allows the life of Christ to be manifested to others through the flesh. God builds strength, virtue, compassion, faith and sacrificial love into His children “to become conformed to the image of His son.” (Romans 8:29). Trials come to humble us that we must realize that God allows trials in our lives share our burdens with others. (James 1:3-4, and 12)

God uses suffering to reveal our spiritual condition. Paul explains: “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4)