None of us enjoy suffering. I hate it personally and it sure makes us have to answer some hard questions about our faith. The really cool part is God is up to the challenge. It might all pass through His hands but know this; He is a loving and remarkable God. A few days ago we discovered that any kind of suffering makes us stronger. When the walls are strong, the city rejoices the bible declares.
Next, God can get glory through our suffering. Anyone can be at peace when the sun shines down from a blue and cloudless sky. But when those qualities shine out from the midst of a dark and destructive storm, that’s another matter entirely.
That, in essence, was the challenge Satan laid before God. “Job follows you because you have blessed him in every way, but if those things were taken away, it would be a different story. He would curse you.”
In order to show the falsehood of Satan’s argument—and to strengthen Job’s faith at the same time—God allowed these multiple tragedies to crash into Job’s life.
The result? Job not only refused to curse God, he actually blessed Him. What a rebuke to the enemy! What a witness to the world.
It is a powerful testimony when a believer can praise God while suffering. Remember the story of Paul and Silas, arrested for preaching the gospel in the city of Philippi? The Bible tells us that the jailer had them stripped and flogged. Then they were put in a dungeon, where their feet were fastened in stocks.
How did they respond? Here’s what the Bible says:
“But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” (Acts 16:25 nkjv) That word “listened” could be translated as listened with great interest. Why? Because they had never heard anybody sing praises to God in such a place. And that’s about the time the Lord sent an earthquake: “At once the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” (Acts 16:26-28 niv)
The jailer responded by saying, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” In effect, he was saying, “I’ve been watching you guys. I’ve seen how you have taken such terrible punishment without cursing. I’ve seen how you can worship in the worst circumstances, and how you could have escaped but didn’t. All I can say is, whatever you have, I want it.”
Your circumstances may not be as dire as those of Paul and Silas. But people are watching you. If you’re in the midst of a hardship or a difficulty, they’re watching to see if you will really practice what you preach, and live out what you proclaim. The way you handle suffering in your life can bring great glory to God.Paul the apostle also suffered from an unnamed “thorn in the flesh.” No one really knows what it was, but he spoke of it in his letter to the Corinthian church, and said that he had asked the Lord on three separate occasions to remove it. But God said no. Even though God had done miracles through Paul, bringing healing to others, He chose not to bring that healing in the life of His loyal servant in this particular situation. When Paul asked why, God gave him this answer: “My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9 nlt). Was Paul discouraged by this answer? It sure doesn’t sound like it! He goes on to say, “So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me. Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (vv. 9-10).
So God can be glorified through our weakness. His light and power can shine through the chips, cracks, and cracks in your life, drawing others to Himself.
To God Be the Glory!!!
Remember, Sunday we begin the series, “YOU WANT ME TO DO WHAT?