I’ve done it all my life. When I hit a bump in the road, a struggle, a discouragement, or a time of suffering, I ask why. I think the reason will help me cope. It will make it worthwhile. It will give me joy in the suffering.
More than that, it will help me comfort others. “Look what God is doing,” I could say.
But what happens when a reason is not given?
I’ve been there. Instead of, “Look what God is doing,” I have to fall back on, “God is in control and He does love us, whether we feel it or not right now.” That’s harder, my friends. So much harder.
I confess, the lack of being able to see God’s hand – an inability to see how He was being glorified through the situation – has distracted me from resting in Him at times. I needed evidence. He gave me none.
Instead, He gave Himself.
He gave just the provision needed to process through the struggle.
But I wanted more. I wanted some great vision of how this fit into His grand plan. And when that vision didn’t come, the fight against bitterness and disillusionment was strong.
What was the point of the struggle if I could not see Him glorified?
Little did I know that my real struggle had nothing to do with our physical circumstances and everything to do with my train of thought. I looked for an immediate purpose. I looked for clarity. I looked for Him to reveal some magnificent glorification through our suffering.
Just stop for a moment and soak up those words. But God.
I’ve been overwhelmed by those words before, and even as I type them now, I cannot get away from them. In any situation when our hearts cry out in anguish, we need only hear those words, and our whole perspective turns around.
But our amazing God doesn’t leave us with only those words. He goes even further.
Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 1 Peter 4:1-2 NASB
He reminds me of the point to our suffering: TO CEASE FROM SIN!
Wow. Just soak that in for a moment. When we endure suffering faithfully, suddenly those fleshly lusts lose their allure, don’t they? We realize what is truly precious, and we cling to it, turning away from the sin that once ensnared us.
Yet how many times do we forget that truth when we are standing in the midst of a struggle? We ask for more – or, should I say, lesser – purpose for our suffering.
I would love to be free from suffering. But, I hunger more to be free from sin. And if I have to choose one or the other, I choose to suffer and do away with sin. And even while I suffer, I will think with joy of the day when both will be done away with and we will live in perfection with Christ our Savior. With God our Almighty Father and Creator.
No matter what the suffering, may that truth return to my memory and be purpose enough for me.