I can’t remember a time when so many friends were under such physical, mental, and/or spiritual attack. Maybe it’s a sign of my age. Maybe it’s the result of the chaos in the sin-filled world we live in. I don’t know. I do know that there are many people suffering and being challenged.
Job had a season in his life when everything went wrong. When Job asked God – Why? God’s “answer” to Job’s question was, “Hush, child. You wouldn’t understand if I told you.”
Scripture gives us some understanding as to why some suffer so much.
“The God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, will perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.” (1 Peter 5:10)
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17)
“You speak always like someone who has suffered,” says Arctura, one of George MacDonald’s characters in his book Donal Grant. “Who has not that lives at all,” is the response.
Someone once said that, “Indeed, life is suffering: contradiction, misfortune, disappointment, and heartbreak surrounds us.” Why must we enter the Kingdom of God through many tribulations?
I used to believe I knew the answers to those questions, but life – now that I’m much closer to its end than to its beginning – has knocked most of them right out of my head. God chided Job and his friends, as Jesus chided His disciples when they drew unwarranted conclusions from suffering.
In the face of affliction, I’m learning now to be more or less silent. When my friends tell me their lives are difficult, I answer, “Of course I understand and will pray for you.” When they ask me why they’re suffering, I tell them, “I really don’t know, but my God won’t let anything touch His children that first hasn’t touched His hands.”
Why life should be this way, I cannot say, but I do know this: It will not always be this way; there will be an end. Eternal glory lies ahead, as Peter promised, “After we have suffered for a little while.” There, in that “eternal school room,” our Lord will explain “each separate anguish,” but I doubt, then, that we will care. In the awesome flood of His wisdom and love, and in the beauty that will be ours for all eternity, we shall forget “our present, light, momentary afflictions and discouraging trials.”
My friends, it’s a matter of perspective.
I Shall know Why
By Emily Dickinson
I shall know why-when Time is over–
And I have ceased to wonder why–
Christ will explain each separate anguish
In the fair schoolroom of the sky–
He will tell me what “Peter” promised–
And I–for wonder at his woe–
I shall forget the drop of Anguish
That scalds me now–that scalds me now!
If you or someone you love is experiencing pain or struggling remember God’s promises:
He is the God of all comfort. 2 Cor.1:3-4
I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Ps. 23:4
When I am afraid, I will trust in you. Ps. 56:3
This devotional is a guest post by Dr. Jim Grassi. He is the founder of Men’s Ministry Catalyst, a ministry partner of Promise Keepers.