“Only when we understand that God has ordained our suffering can we begin to make sense of it. Only then can we be certain that He has a purpose in it. When tragedy comes, when adversity strikes, we will not be shaken. Yes, we will cry. Yes, we will grieve. But we will move on confidently knowing that God is on His throne, that we are in His hand, that our circumstances are His doing, and He is working them for our good.”
~Terry L. Johnson, When Grace Comes Home
The sad thing about suffering, outside of the pain involved, is the fact that people too often think God is out to punish them through it. Yes, they figure He ordained it alright to penalize them not to work it out for their own good. They figure they must have done something wrong and therefore they are basically paying the price for it via their suffering. They reason in their little minds that God must have abandoned them or didn’t think they were worthy of rescuing them from their current sufferings.
The last thing we think about when we are in this state of mind is the fact that God had a “good and godly” purpose behind ordaining it. That He knows what is going on and is using this time to shape us not smash us. To build us up not tear us down. To love on us not reject us.
As with anyone we could all name our sorrows and we can see the pain that went on but if we look close enough we also can see God at work. It’s inevitable that all will suffer. What isn’t foreseeable is how we choose to go through it. Our attitude going in will affect a great deal the outcome. As much as it may hurt we need to stop and ask God, “What do you want me to learn from this?”
With the correct attitude and focus on the right place we will not be shaken. Yes we are going to cry, grieve, wonder, worry, and feel all sorts of emotions but we can move on confidently that God knows what He’s doing. Just like a young child who doesn’t see any good in their parents making them eat the right food, go to bed at a decent hour, do their homework, or avoid certain situations we often don’t immediately see the good behind what God is doing through our suffering. As a child we have to trust that mom and dad know what they are talking about. As a child of God we need to trust that He too knows what He is talking about. We need to know in our hearts when He says, “this is for our own good,” that He means just that.
During the times of my greatest suffering I thought the scripture 1 John 4:4 had to be a miss print or something that didn’t pertain to me. It says, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” I didn’t doubt God’s promise here as much as I doubted myself. Evidently I didn’t fit into the “dear children” category. Evidently I didn’t qualify because what was on the outside seemed much greater. Evidently I must have been doing something wrong to not get this one particular promise from God.
Boy did I have it wrong. God was using my suffering to shape me as He put a girdle on my flaws to shape them into something of greater worth. He was walking me through situations not dragging me along by my hair. He was patiently waiting for me to grow up in order to stand on my own two feet to walk forward instead of always falling back.
It’s not always up to us to see God’s plan or goals for us. However it is up to us to trust that He knows what He is doing especially during our times of suffering. His hand is there. It’s not there to slap us down but to lift us up. Let Him do the lifting while we do the trusting.
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© 2010 Karen J. Gillett @ Pencil Marks and Recipes Publishing