Aug. 22, 2012

Suffering is a part of life; it is something that all of us encounter, and it is inescapable.

We all have and know about the promises of God, and without them we would have no hope in his life. None o f us want to go through trials or to face hardships, but God always seems to have a reason for these things. We all know about the saying, 'You reap what you sow,' but bad things also happen to people who follow after God.

I hear stories about people who trust in God with all their hearts, and they are obedient to him in so many ways. And yet these very people have spouses or sons and daughters, who have overwhelming diseases and catastrophes in their lives. I hear the stories of how they have prayed for healing, have had hands laid upon them, and have been anointed with oil. They believed, they prayed earnestly for recovery and yet, the person is still afflicted. You say, Perhaps their faith wasn’t strong enough. Perhaps there was some sin that prevented the healing from happening. Perhaps God in his infinite wisdom has let the malady stay there…Perhaps the thorn in the flesh has a reason for its existence.

What about the parents who pour their hearts and souls into the son or daughter, who continually chooses to neglect the gift that has been given to them in the form of education. What happens when countless prayers and sleepless nights see the child again refuse to get up and go to school and to become all that they were meant to be? What about all the promises of God and prophetic truths that speak of rainbows beyond the dark days and troubled nights? When does the consistent endurance pray off? When does the trial end, or is it just another attack subtly planned by the enemy to wear a family down and just throw in the towel?

Or are we to learn our lesson from the ancient patriarch Job who lost everything, but even in his deepest suffering, still was able to praise God? We know that in the end his former possessions that had been taken away from him, in the end he received them back doubly. His flesh was healed, but his suffering was intense, and was something that perhaps only few of us, will ever encounter.

We all know about the suffering of Christ and all of the floggings and pain he endured, particularly as he faced the death on the cross for us. We are also told that as we are heirs with God that we will also share in his sufferings.

Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Romans 8:17

Part of this is so that we might be molded into his image and become more like him through the things that we suffer. But even in the midst of these trials, there is always the hope that not only will they yield the fruit of his righteousness, but that they will come to an end, and that there would be periods of time when we might rest from these trials and tribulations. I’ve always found that it's kind of like the waves of the ocean----we get caught-up in a huge wave and we're taken in by its tow, and then it slowly ebbs away. We’re given some time to rest and things will go fine for a while, and then way out in the ocean, another wave starts its way towards us, and then the whole process starts again. It may however, be a different issue this time. Whereas before, the car breaks down, our relationships are strained, and there’s a leak in the roof. This time, a family member may be in the hospital, school has just started, and a son or daughter has decided that they aren’t going to get up in time for school. These are normal problems that most of us face. However, there are other types of trials and persecutions that can last for even years. These are the types of things that Job faced. These are types of things that many of the prophets of old faced.

Suffering must run its course. It is inescapable just like how the mighty river cuts through the cliffs and finds a new channel in its course. It is relentless. It doesn’t give up easily, but somehow, if we just hang on, it will subside and the tides will roll back, and we’ll be able to view the landscape before us with a new vision.

'These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.' John 16:33

Stephen Hanson