We continue our examination of suffering and today we will be looking at a few specific reasons we suffer.
An important point from yesterday that bears repeating is that regardless of what the type of suffering is, it is important to understand that God is in charge of it. God is an active participant in our trials and sufferings and is orchestrating what kind of suffering we undergo.
Lamentations 3:37-38 (NLT)
Can anything happen without the Lord’s permission? Is it not the Most High who helps one and harms another?
This passage of Scripture offends people, especially people who are hurting. We do not like to think of God helping one and harming another. We have been brought up to think (many of us have anyway) that God is love, and is never angry with sinners. Many are taught that every bad thing that happens is Satan, and that God is no place to be found.
We do not like to believe that God actually orchestrates tragedy! While you may understand that God is a God of love you may not have been taught that he does allow and even bring adversity into our lives. I am not saying God sins; I am saying he uses sin to teach us. God is a sovereign God and you will struggle with suffering if you do not have an understanding of the Sovereignty of God.
The trials and sufferings you are undergoing are necessary and profitable. You will see today that the Word of God says they are. No matter how it feels to us, God says our suffering is purposeful and that is far more important than any personal experience or even our feelings about adversity. We will learn more about the profitability the necessity of suffering in a little while but let’s look at the reasons we suffer now.
One of the reasons we suffer is as a result of sin. Sin always carries a price. Don’t we try to teach our children this? I sin because my heart is set on satisfying and worshipping “self.” All sin is a worship disorder, a theological problem actually. As a believer, I sin because I am an idolater.
Suffering lends itself to self-focus, we focus on our situation, on our pain and before long all we think about is “me.” I make relieving my suffering or pain the goal and focus of my daily life and whether we realize it or not we are committing idolatry. Because the focus is not on glorifying God, or His agenda but on “me.”
Suffering itself is not sinful, but what we do in suffering can be. If we are focused on feeling better, feeling happy, freedom from pain or any of a number of other desires we can quickly become idolaters. God sees the thoughts and intentions of the heart – even when we lie to ourselves, which we are very good at doing. Idolatry is sin, and every sin has a consequence- – an automatic built in negative result. I suffer consequences due to the sin I commit. God is never mocked and we can never put one over on Him. He sees the thoughts and intentions of the heart and even when we lie to ourselves.
In Psalm 38 we read that David suffered physically, emotionally and mentally as a result of his sin. He was tormented and ill. He suffered from fear of man both due to guilt and genuine threat of harm. David felt abandoned by God.
In later Psalms David speaks about understanding (as we can too) that even when we suffer because of our sin God is gracious and merciful. (Psalm 78:38-39; Psalm 106:43-46)
God’s handling of us when we sin is instructive and intentional. The consequences we bear are intended to help us to grow and change. God intends that we learn from our consequences and also from the example left for us in His Word
1 Corinthians 10:11 (NASB)
Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
Think on these things my friends. More tomorrow, by God’s grace.