“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.”
Recently, there were two showings of a film of faith, grace and love entitled “Unstoppable” by Kirk Cameron. It addressed the universal question of, “If God exists, why do we suffer?” In my opinion, Kirk did an adequate job displaying truths of the fall of man to the story of Noah and the flood. He tied those stories directly to the suffering of man and humanity as a whole. My favorite line of the flick was, “most people think of the flood story as God destroying mankind when really our focus should be how humanity was destroying itself”.
In fact, God’s love and grace is exemplified more so through this story than His wrath.
The race of man was corrupt and scriptures say God was grieved He had even created man (Genesis 6:6 “So the Lord was sorry He had ever made them”). God didn’t have to start over from scratch beginning with Noah’s family all over again. But it was His grace and love that was shown so miraculously to spare Noah and his family’s life and to give creation ‘another go’. The rainbow following the flood is a symbol of not just a promise but a reminder of God’s love as well.
The Bible contains the story of a man named Job who went under an intense time of trial and tribulation. God permitted Satan to test Job’s faithfulness to his God through deaths of family members, plagues, etc. But the one exception was as long as Satan would not touch a hair on Job’s head. Through it all, Job stayed true to his faith and praised God even through his horrific sufferings and in the end God made him even more prosperous. Job could be seen as a role model for us and keep in mind, he still struggled through every hurt he experienced like we do. Job 3:1 says, “At last Job spoke, and he cursed the day of his birth”. He wished he’d never been born than to be forsaken by his God. Yes, he struggled. By no means are we called to respond perfectly to sufferings as if we are robots with no emotions.
Instead, I mean to challenge us to approach suffering through a different lens than the world.
The other day I was telling ‘my boys’ (behaviorally-disturbed teenagers) at my job that we can’t control our outside circumstances affecting us but WE CAN control our response. I told them that true character isn’t shown during the ‘good times’, it’s displayed during the tough times. Many people see tribulations as curses. Why not see them as opportunities for growth? How many people do you know who have learned from their mistakes and come out on the other side, a side of acquired wisdom, knowledge and strength. Sufferings move us forward in true maturity and development of our character, hope and faith (see scripture above). I’ve seen this constantly portrayed in my own life and I’ll share these stories later on in further blogs.
Romans assures us that we should take joy in our trials as Job did his best to do, for it is through them that our patience and endurance is tried and tested, character is produced and matured through that patience/endurance and hope in God is the end result of it all. God uses even the most severe adversities to be beneficial in our lives. He uses them for OUR OWN GOOD (Romans 8:28).
God uses testing in our lives
To rid us of impurity
And teach us that our strength’s in Him
And not in self-sufficiency
Read that carefully. Sper is basically saying that suffering is a fire that God uses to purify and strengthen us. Don’t you think that sounds like God loves you enough to place suffering in your life?
Your sufferings aren’t an excuse to disregard the existence of a god. In fact, if more of our minds were OPENED, we’d see it’s just the opposite. Listen to this quote from one of my favorite authors, Brian Zahnd: “…the overarching storyline of the Bible is not ‘once upon a time, they lived happily after. Instead, the divine story of God’s people has plenty of moments where the narrative, in effect, says ‘Then all hell broke loose’. The glorious thing about the chronicles of scripture is that disappointment is never the end of the story- not for those who believe God.”
Too many lukewarm Christians panic, worry and doubt their all-mighty God when times get hard. But we need to take heart during those moments, trust in God’s promises, pray without ceasing, dwell on His word as much as possible and KNOW that He has us in the palm of His hands.
Ryan Walters. ’98.6 Too Cold’ Founder, Blogger