Yesterday I posted an audio message of my teaching about God’s purposes in suffering.
Today I am sharing the seven points I spoke about in the teaching.
7 Things God Wants You to Know in the Midst of Your Suffering
Since no one is exempt from trials, it’s safe to assume that most of us are in the midst of a difficult time right now. And although trials range in severity, they are always hard.
“A trial is a painful circumstance allowed by God to change our conduct and our character” (James MacDonald).
1. We shouldn’t be surprised at seasons of suffering.
God does not want us to be surprised at seasons of suffering. In fact, God promises in His Word that we will suffer.
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, WHEN you encounter various trails” (James 1:2).
“In this world you will have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
We should not let difficulties take us by surprise. We should expect them to come. And if we know they are coming, we can prepare for them.
How do we prepare for hard times? We spend time getting to know our God through His Word. As we meditate and memorize His Word, we are equipped and strengthened to stand firm when the storms of life hit.
2. Suffering proves we are children of God.
“It is for discipline (suffering) that you endure; God deals with you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” (Hebrews 12:7).
We may wish it was some other way, but suffering actually proves we are children of God. God brings hard times in our lives to teach us and He disciplines us as a loving Father. In fact, the next verse in Hebrews goes on to say that if we are without discipline we are illegitimate children.
3. What we believe about God will determine how we respond to trials.
What we believe about God is so important – especially during difficult times. God is NOT the author of suffering. We suffer because we live in a sin-soaked world. God created a perfect world for us to live in, but we chose sin, and along with sin comes suffering.
BUT, God does allow suffering. That’s hard to grapple with when our lives have been turned upside down by suffering. But we can know this – if God allows a hard time to come into our lives, He has allowed it for a purpose. God is up to something when we go through difficulty. We must look expectantly for what He is doing.
4. God brings suffering into our lives for our good.
“…[God] disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10).
Your trial is for your ultimate good. Of course it doesn’t feel good (Hebrews 12:11), but God is doing a good work in our hearts and lives as we submit to Him in suffering.
I don’t know what the specific good is for your trial, but I do know some things He wants to do in the lives of every believer:
- God wants to develop endurance and perseverance in us (James 1:2-4).
- God wants to increase our faith.
- God wants us to experience the peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7).
- God wants to lift our eyes above the storm and fix them on His face.
- God wants us to live for things unseen, not for the things of this world (2 Corinthians 4:18).
- He wants to give us hope.
- He wants to prove to us that He is faithful.
- He wants to show us that we are not in control, He is.
- He wants to demonstrate the superiority of a life lived in Him through us to a watching world.
- He wants to demonstrate His power and grace through us.
- He wants us to develop a new level of dependency on Him.
5. God is never more close than when His children are suffering.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you” (Isaiah 43:2).
Believers in Jesus Christ often talk about the nearness of God in the midst of extreme difficulty. Of course, God is always with us, but He makes His presence known in such a sweet and tangible way in suffering. Perhaps its because we recognize our need for Him in a fresh way and we cry out to Him with greater urgency.
6. We must determine from the start to cooperate with God in whatever He allows into our lives.
Whatever you are going through right now, will you make a decision to determine to cooperate with God? Don’t get angry, don’t complain, don’t lash out at others. Don’t run from God or try to fight with Him. Instead, recognize His sovereign hand and His goodness. Allow Him to do His work in you as you submit to Him.
7. Remember, the suffering will not go on forever.
“For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).
This pain that you are enduring is momentary. It will not go on forever.
Your suffering? It’s not worthy to even be compared to what awaits for you in heaven. When we get to heaven we will look back on the suffering in this life and know – beyond a shadow of a doubt – that it was worth it.
No matter what the future holds for you, believe that God is sovereign and He is good. Your trials do not change the character of God. So let’s determine together to watch expectantly for His work in the midst of suffering and yield to it.