Suffering; June 15, 2019


1 Peter 5:10-11 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Suffering is a part of life on this earth, as Jesus Himself made very clear. (John 16:33) However, as Jesus also said, when we are in Him, we aren’t defeated by suffering but are polished and strengthened by it. The problem comes when we focus on our suffering, rather than on the Lord who will get us through it. We aren’t to look for suffering, but we certainly aren’t to be surprised when it happens. There are all kinds of suffering: physical, emotional, economic, and more. This applies to all of them. We are in the world but not of it, (John 15:19, 17:14-16) and suffering is strictly limited to this world. We get ourselves into deeper and deeper trouble when we look to this world to relieve our suffering. It’s not that God doesn’t, much less can’t, use things in this world to bless us, but rather that our focus must be on Him rather than on the world. Countless people have gotten addicted to chemicals of one sort and another in the process of trying to dull their pain, either physical or emotional. God created those chemicals and they have their use, but if we rely on them rather than on Him, we don’t really solve our problem, whatever it is. People resort to get-rich-quick schemes or even crime in an effort to relieve financial suffering, when Jesus was famously explicit on that point: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33) After all, God is Yahweh Jireh, the Lord our Provider.

I have experienced suffering of various sorts, but I don’t feel any of it has been that severe. The worst I can remember is when we ran out of money in the middle of building this church building. God’s answer to it wasn’t dropping money in our lap, but rather getting the various companies involved to accept time payments rather than lump sum remittances. I am surrounded by people who are suffering in various ways. My wife has a litany of medical problems that can stack up on her at times, but she is a marvelous example to many with her cheerful outlook. One of my spiritual children was in an emotional pit, but just yesterday they managed to look up, figuratively speaking, and everything changed. I have run into numbers of people who want Jesus as their Savior for their immediate problem, but aren’t really interested in making Him Lord of their life, especially if that doesn’t solve their immediate problem the way they desire. For every one of these situations I am to pray, and speak the truth in love. If I will do that, God is more than able to use whatever suffering there is to bless and not destroy, for His glory. (Actually, He is able to do that whatever I do or fail to do, but He sometimes gives me the privilege of being involved in the process.)

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the joy of discovering yesterday morning that my child had lifted their eyes to You. I pray that they would continue to do so, day by day and step by step, so that they would be strengthened and perfected just as Peter said, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

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About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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