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Overcoming Adversity 101, Part 8: Ten Final Reasons Why

God has loving reasons for allowing our trials. He didn’t let that pain touch you because He lacks love but because He does love you.

Suffering:

1. Causes us to know and experience the fact that:

  • God sustains us: “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens” (Ps. 68:19).
  • He is our way of escape when the load is more than we can bear.  He helps us bear it. (See 1 Cor. 10:13.)
  • His life lives in our mortal flesh. (See 2 Cor 4:7.)

2. Rids us of sin and helps us live for the will of God (1 Pet. 4:1-2).

“Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.  As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.”

Those who serve God faithfully in the midst of suffering take on a different attitude toward sin than what they previously held.  Sin no longer presents itself with the same enticement and no longer has the same grip on them

3. Makes God’s priority – holiness – our priority.

God is more concerned with character than comfort, with holiness more than happiness (Ro. 5:3-5, Ja. 1:2-4, He 12:7-11).

4.  Teaches us obedience (See Ps. 119:67).

Even Jesus learned obedience from what He suffered (Heb. 5:8).

5. Causes us to know that we are more than conquerors IN our hardship, not just when we are delivered from it (Rom. 8:37 ; John 16:33; I John 5:4).

6.  Reminds us that our citizenship is in heaven; we are aliens and strangers (I Pet. 1:17; 2:11; Phil.3:20).

 

“3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Col. 3:3).

7. Accomplishes God’s purpose for us. Through suffering, God brings about the potential He sees for our lives. (Ps 138:8, Ps. 119;67, Ge. 50:20).

8.  Suffering helps us live in the sufficiency of Christ.  It puts us in a place where Christ alone is enough.

Once we truly experience the death of our flesh and the life of Christ living for us, we are completely content. Christ alone is sufficient — as opposed to wanting only what Christ can do for us or give us, we are content with Him alone.

Today, Christians are so preoccupied with an escape from pain that we’ve lost the true meaning of the Cross.  We disdain crosses and losses.  We abhor our Gethsemane’s.   The suffering, bleeding, resurrected Christ is an anomaly to us.

In a message entitled, “A Christless Pentecost,” David Wilkerson stated:

We no longer want Christ as much as we want what He can do for us. We want an escape from pain and suffering. We want our troubles to vanish. And we are so caught up in our escape from pain, we lose the true meaning of the Cross. We refuse crosses and losses – no Gethsemane for us! No nights of agony! We don’t even know this suffering, bleeding, resurrected Christ!

We want His healing power. We want His promises of prosperity. We want His protection. We want more of this earth’s goods. We want His happiness. But we really don’t want Him alone!

The Church once confessed its sins – now it confesses its rights.

How many of us would serve Him if He offered nothing but Himself? No healing. No success. No prosperity. No worldly blessings. No miracles, signs, or wonders. What if – once again we had to take joyfully the spoiling of our goods? What if – instead of clear sailing and problem-free living, we faced shipwreck, fears within and fightings without? What if – instead of painless living, we suffered cruel mockings, stoning, bloodshed – being sawn asunder? What if – instead of our beautiful homes and cars, we had to wander about in deserts in sheepskins, hiding in dens and caves? What if – instead of prosperity, we were destitute, afflicted, and tormented? And the only better thing provided for us was Christ? [i]

Suffering helps us realize that the only better thing is Christ.

9.   Brings us to repentance

“Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities…Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them…” (Ps. 107:17, 19-20).

Suffering breaks stubborn pride and self-absorption that keep us from repentance. Even if the adversity isn’t a direct result of sin, the brokenness that results can lead to a repentance of sin—a “getting right” before God.

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains.” – C.S. Lewis.

Repentance leads to something wonderful—to God.  Discomfort, pain and hardship are often the motivators that stimulate us to surrender to God.  In a sense, they correct our vision.  Without them we begin to see a false picture of our lives.  We begin to believe that we are self-sufficient, independent, strong, capable, immortal and unaccountable to God’s holy standard.  When an overwhelming circumstance exposes our perceptions for the mirages that they are, we recognize our need for supernatural strength beyond our own. We realize how insufficient we are, how frail, mortal and naturally unholy we are.

In short, we embrace Truth…and build our lives upon Truth rather than a lie.  In The School of Christ, T. Austin-Sparks states,

…You and I, under the Holy Spirit’s teaching, have to be dealt with very faithfully. We have to come to the place where we are perfectly adjustable before God – where there is all responsiveness to the Holy Spirit, and nothing in us that resists or refuses the Holy Spirit, but where we are perfectly open and ready for the biggest consequence of the Holy Spirit putting His finger upon anything in our lives needing to be dealt with and adjusted.

The alternative to such a work of the Holy Spirit being allowed to be done in us is that we shall find ourselves in a false position. And it is far, far too costly to find ourselves in a false position, even though it only be in certain points. This is a false world we are living in, a world that is carried on upon lies. The whole constitution of the world is a lie and it is in the very nature of man…They are trying to build the world on a false foundation.

This post and the previous two in the series list a few of the reasons why God allows suffering. Yet these few reasons show ample cause to believe God will cause us not to stand still in terror but to make spiritual progress in our trial.

“17Even though the fig trees are all destroyed, and there is neither blossom let nor fruit, and though the olive crops all fail, and the fields lie barren; even if the flocks die in the fields and the cattle barns are empty, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will be happy in the God of my salvation. 19The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!”  (Hab. 3:17-19). (vv. 17-18, TLB. v.19, AMP)

10. The greatest reason God can be trusted with our suffering

The greatest reason God can be trusted with our suffering is not because we know all the answers – not because our heads are filled with knowledge about why it is occurring – but because we are assured of His love.

God’s ultimate answer to our suffering was the incarnation of Christ. He entered into our agony and took upon Himself all the pain of this world. Every agony, every grief, every sin – He felt it, He tasted it, He became it.

He didn’t just feel what you and I would feel in our finite world.  He tasted all pain, all evil, all suffering for all time.  Can you imagine the God who weeps over every sparrow that falls and grieves over every sin – the God who hates wickedness and loves righteousness? (See Psalm 45:7.) Can you imagine knowing that kind of love and compassion and voluntarily choosing to taste the whole of eternity’s sorrow?

There is no greater love. This same God who left the ecstasy of Heaven in order to take upon Himself all of humanity’s pain has inserted Himself into your trial and offers to carry your pain.

“God answers your pain not with a principle but with a Person, not with a word but the Word, not a reason but a relationship” – Rick Warren

Question: How does it change your perspective of your pain to know that God’s ultimate answer to our pain was the incarnation of Jesus Christ?

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[i] Wilkerson, David. (October 1, 1982). A Christless Pentecost. http://www.worldchallenge.org/en/node/1379

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