[PC-USA] 1999-06-11 - God's Motives

A diagnosis of a "terminal" illness. A bankruptcy. A deep hurt in a relationship. Suffering is manifested in all shapes and sizes. Something common in all instances is the questions we ask of God. I don't pretend to have all the answers, but I would like to clear up what I consider some "bad theology." Sometimes we believe that God doesn't care about our pain, that He doesn't love us or He would not let us suffer. Actually sometimes the truth is the opposite; He allows us to go through trials for our own good.  Instead of short-circuiting them, He allows us to "pass through the fire" to teach us empathy, humble us, to lead us to depend more on Him and less on ourselves, to refine us.

James 1:2-4 (NNAS) Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

1 Pet 1:6-7 (NNAS) In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

I myself would just as soon forego the trials! But if life were always comfortable, most of us would grow complacent, unappreciative. We probably would NOT grow spiritually. I don't usually care for clichés; however, this one is on-target: We can allow our suffering to make us better or bitter. I don't mean to sugarcoat. A couple of my friends are going through excruciatingly painful circumstances. And I myself have had emotional pain to the point of feeling like my heart was about to physically burst from it. But God can get us through it. He does care. He hurts WITH us. He feels our pain.

John 11:33 (NNAS) When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled.

If you are dealing with something painful today, pour out your pain to God, pray for solid Christian friends to support you, ask Him to use the situation to make you "better," and ask Him to help you feel His love and presence in the midst of it.