For most of us, we have enough life experience to know that suffering is a part of life. This is true for the follower of Jesus and for the unbeliever. It’s in these times of difficulty that our spiritual roots can go deep. We learn more. We experience God’s presence and power in ways we never have before.
Author John Piper - “No one has ever said that they learned their deepest lessons of life, or had their sweetest encounters with God on the sunny days. People go deep with God when they drought comes. And this is the way God designed it. Christ aims to be magnified most clearly by the way we experience Him in our losses.”
Did you catch that? People go deep with God when the drought comes. Somehow, someway we have got to gain the wisdom and the insight to recognize suffering as a tool for spiritual growth. If you will think about it…this is your testimony.
Because you were sick, you learned God can heal, or at least that he sustained you.
Because you lost a loved one, you experienced God’s presence in a way you never had before.
Because you struggled financially, you learned God is our provider
Because you had a broken relationship, you learned God’s power to restore.
Because you had an addiction, you learned God’s ability to deliver and set you free.
Who we are today is a result of what we have gone through. But the question we ask ourselves in these times that we live in is; “can we find joy in suffering?” At first this seems like a contradictory question, joy and suffering are opposed to each other, so how is this even imaginable?
Listen to these words from the Apostle Paul in Romans 5:3-5 - “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.”
Paul is saying that even in our suffering we can rejoice because we recognize that God is with us and that He is at work in our lives. Your present circumstances are developing your character so that you will be more like Jesus.
Sometimes God lets is go through adversity to bring you to an end of ourselves? Suffering produces spiritual growth. Suffering causes us to draw closer to God. Suffering brings an end to our self-sufficiency and causes us to recognize how much we need Jesus.
So many today are seeking happiness. We hear parents say, “I just want my kids to be happy.” But we all know that happiness is circumstantial. Somedays I have happy circumstances, and some days I don’t.
What God blesses us with is joy. Joy is supernatural and is not based on our present circumstances. Yes, we struggle. Yes, we have difficult days. Yes, we will suffer, but we experience joy in the midst of it all because we have God’s unending and sustaining presence. Jesus, our supreme example went before us. He suffered and endured to the end. He will give us the strength to do the same.
Today’s Challenge: As you worship God, allow your heart to be filled with gratitude for God’s faithfulness in your life. Rejoice in his presence, his power, and his promise. Maybe it’s been a while since you have done this. Take some time to rejoice in God, you’ll be glad you did.
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