If you’ve ever been in a Baptist prayer request sharing time, you know what it’s like to come face to face with an overwhelming list of suffering. It is everywhere and ever-present. Someone is always sick, suffering from financial issues, experiencing family problems, or just plain overwhelmed. As we come together to try to bear one another’s burdens, it can seem to be a very depressing prospect. It can often bring much more discouragement that encouragement to hear of the suffering all around us. In fact, sometimes I feel that my own struggles – the things I so greatly hungered for encouragement in dealing with – aren’t even worth mentioning in light of the sufferings of those around me.
It all brings the question “why” back to the surface nearly every time. Why do good people suffer? Why do we have to deal with issues that seems to render us inefficient? What good can truly come from the things we suffer? Are we being prepared for some future test? Will someone learn from watching us? Will we be able to help someone else somewhere down the road because of our own struggles today? Why? Why? Why? There must be a purpose in it all!
Psalm 102:18-22 is an absolutely beautiful picture of God’s purpose in each of our sufferings. Take a look at this wonderful passage…
This will be written for the generation to come,
that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord.
For He looked down from His holy height;
from heaven the Lord gazed upon the earth to hear the groaning of the prisoner,
to set free those who were doomed to death,
that men may tell of the name of the Lord in Zion and His praise in Jerusalem,
when the peoples are gather together, and the kingdoms to serve the Lord.
It’s all about praising God!
Suddenly the usefulness of our suffering explodes in beauty! There is no limitation to what incredible things may come from what we experience!
It’s not about some earthly good that comes from suffering – it’s about the praise that can be lifted to the One who gives us strength through it!
It’s not about passing some future test – it’s about bringing Him glory right now!
It’s not about being equipped to help someone else endure through suffering – it’s about teaching them to cry out to Him!
It’s not about teaching others how to walk through life because of our own experiences – it’s about teaching others how to praise God in the midst of the storm because we’ve learned to do so!
The other things are by-products that, when we see fulfilled, make us praise Him even more.
When everything that we experience on this earth is about giving God the glory He is due, suddenly we are surrounded by joy and beauty. Suddenly we are not overwhelmed by the suffering around us. We still feel the pain, but we can have the joy God promises in the midst of that pain.
Oh how I hunger to move past the habit of being weighed down by suffering and instead live every moment and every experience for the purpose of praising God!