Crosspoint Church | Georgetown, TX

Rejoice in our sufferings?

This week’s devotions are based on the Week 3 “Explore God” – Why does God allow pain and suffering? (WATCH HERE)

Is pain and suffering bad?

Our knee jerk reaction is, “Yes. Yes it is.”

Of course, very few of us would seek out pain and suffering and invite it into our lives.  Most of us seek to avoid pain and suffering and help others do the same.  When pain and suffering do occur, our natural reaction is to cover it so we don’t feel it, or try to end it so we don’t have to continue enduring it.  And we often ask God to be the one that does that for us.

I am the same way.

But when the pain and suffering don’t cease immediately, it is easy to turn inward to self-pity or turn outward to blame and anger.

However, what happens when we turn to the Lord and don’t just ask, “Lord, take this suffering away from me,” but ask, “Lord what do you want me to learn from this suffering and pain?”

When we ask the second question, we open ourselves up to the work of God’s Spirit to form and strengthen our faith instead of following Satan’s wishes to question and abandon our faith.

So, what might the Lord teach us in a time of suffering?

First, he teaches me to rely on his power and his grace.

The Apostle Paul had a “thorn in his flesh.”  He pleaded three times for the Lord to take it away…but the Lord chose to allow the “thorn” to continue.  However, it was not without cause.  What the Lord used the “thorn suffering” for was to keep Paul a) focused on the grace of God and b) relying on the power of God.  This is recorded in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10:

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  

In times of suffering, we can be 100% confident that the ultimate suffering for sin was completed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.  As a result we will NEVER have to suffer forever in hell, separated from God.  Seasons of suffering remind us we are mortal and not all powerful.  As we rely on the power of God, it also leads us to rely on the grace of God to affirm in us that our biggest problem is solved at the cross and empty tomb (where Jesus suffered for us!).

Second, the Lord uses suffering to mold and develop our faith and character.

Suffering is not always the end game of an event in life.  Suffering may just be the catalyst by which spiritual growth and tenacity occurs.  Paul again writes:

Romans 5:1-5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.  

Rejoice in our sufferings?  Hard to do, but when we realize that God allows and uses suffering to strengthen our faith and convictions in him, they become reasons to rejoice.  For when suffering produces perseverance, so it develops our person, our character.  As our character as a follower of Christ develops, our confidence in the hope God gives grows.  We may be disappointed because our plan for life was interrupted by a season of suffering.  But the hope that God gives through seasons of suffering moves us away from the temporal to find hope in the eternal.  (We’ll finish the week with that thought tomorrow!)


Apply: What development has the Lord taken you through as a result of a season of suffering?

Prayer: Lord, thank you for working in all things to mold me as your child…even in a season of suffering.  AMEN.

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