God’s Purposes in Suffering
You will notice I said “God’s Purposes.” Our purpose would be to get out of the pain as quickly as possible, but God usually has a very different plan. He has the right to orchestrate our lives as he chooses, and we can trust that his plan is always good and right. Here are some of God’s purposes as outlined in the workbook Servant Principle:
- For greater glory in Heaven
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (II Cor 4:16-17).
- To make Jesus known
“For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body” (II Cor 4:11).
People are watching us. When they see us respond to suffering with peace and strength, they will want to know what—and who—is the source. And our suffering then brings life to them.
- To manifest God’s grace
Even when he faced death, Paul reminded the Corinthian believers of God’s great grace.
“All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God” (II Cor 4:15).
- To teach you humility
Paul said God had given him a thorn in the flesh to. . .
“. . . keep him from becoming conceited because to the surpassingly great revelations he had been given” (II Cor 12:7).
We all tend to get a little “too big for our britches” when we experience nothing but blessings and successes. So sometimes God allows hardship to come just to size us back down to size, and remind us that “without him we can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
Suffering strips away the layers of conceit and pride and shows us how fragile we really are. If we don’t become bitter in our suffering, we will become more humble.
- To develop your spiritual maturity
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later, on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Heb 12:11).
A real mark of maturity is when we have the spiritual perspective on suffering so that we “count it all joy when we face trials of many kinds” and then allow that experience to have a very positive effect on us, producing a “harvest of righteousness and peace.” A person only gains that perspective by seeing God work in and through many difficult circumstances, and that person learns that God has treasures in store for those who trust him in those struggles.
What would you add? How are you experiencing God’s grace in your times of suffering?
Interested in talking with Virgil about coaching, consulting, training or speaking with your leaders? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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