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Thursday, January 19, 2012

When it is God’s Will for us to Suffer

Sometimes it is God’s will for us to suffer. I know we don’t like to hear that, but it is  true.

Peter wrote (I Peter 4:19) "So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good." I believe this makes it clear that it is sometimes God's will for us to suffer. Does this mean God is a sadistic God who enjoys seeing his creation suffer? Not at all, but in the same way that we sometimes need to suffer in order to accomplish something in life there are times when God knows his will cannot be done except through suffering. The question is who will do the suffering?

I think Peter was saying if that is what God wants from us, then we should be willing to do it. It doesn't mean, however, that God asks us to suffer gratuitously, or for no reason, just for some sadistic satisfaction. When God asks us to suffer, be sure he has a reason and his grace is sufficient for us to be victorious. The gift of grace is a small price for the suffering and who knows, the accomplishments of our sufferings may eventually become the greatest joy of our lives.

Some time ago I met a gentleman who was a recent convert to Christ. He said the thing that brought him to Christ was observing a co-worker who was going through a very difficult time in life. She had such a beautiful attitude and showed such amazing grace in the midst of such a horrendous time that he finally had to ask, “How do you do it?”

She told him it was Jesus—that his grace gave her the strength she needed, not only to go through the suffering, but to do her best to be like Jesus in her attitude. It took a while for him to believe on his own, but he said there was no doubt that the way she dealt with her suffering was what brought him to Christ.

If God had something he needed you to do in order to accomplish something good for his kingdom would you be willing to do it? If so, then you are suffering according to God’s will.

If an unbeliever causes persons to suffer because they are Christians, that is probably not God’s will, but it is God’s will for us to suffer in a Christ-like way. Such suffering will provide evidence the Holy Spirit can use to touch the heart of the unbeliever and perhaps bring him or her to a personal relationship with Christ.

Remember also that Jesus said, “I have told you these things so that you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33(NIV)) I believe Jesus was saying we will sometimes have to suffer. However, he was assuring us we will never suffer alone as long as we trust in him. He is with us. And we will overcome through the marvelous power of the indwelling Christ.

Jesus is a perfect example—if he had not been willing to suffer for us we would not have salvation. It was God's will for Jesus to suffer in order that the world might be saved. Jesus was willing to suffer—leaving the wonders of heaven and the glorious presence of God, the Father, and coming to a primitive, poverty stricken earth in order to bring us salvation and the awesome privilege of living every moment of our lives with the living Christ indwelling us so that wherever we go and whatever we do, his wonderful presence can be revealed by his Holy Spirit living in us.

I'm Rick Blumenberg . . . and that's My View from Tanner Creek.

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