Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Purpose in Suffering

Right now, my family is suffering through spiritual, physical, and emotional weights. We don't know all the answers, we're afraid, uncertain, and trying to maintain a right perspective. We know that God uses the difficult times--more than the cushy comfortable ones--to shape us. But it's uncomfortable at best, and downright scary most of the time--like a dark cloud hanging over our heads.

My dad is dealing with one of those dark clouds. Last time the doctor checked, he had bladder cancer. We are still praying for complete healing, but we don't know that God's answer will be yes. We're praying that the cancer is only in his bladder and hasn't spread elsewhere. We're praying that this fight is short and victorious. But we just don't know...

So, we have to hold onto what we do know.

We know that God is good. Even when "good" doesn't fit our finite definition. Or when the tapestry looks like a nonsensical mess, we have to trust his goodness.

Our purpose is not found in the sum of our "happy" experiences on this earth. Our life's purpose is found in sacrifice, loving, giving, spreading truth, glorifying God.

Sometimes God glorifies Himself most through our suffering.

And through our suffering, our faith is strengthened, our dependence on God deepens, and our perspective focuses... if we let it.

I'm one of the first to resist, especially if I feel like I can "regain" control and "fix" the struggle back to a comfortable situation. But that's not always God's desire. I read somewhere that if God's answer does seem to be changing, it could be because he is changing us instead. Not pretty. Not pleasant. And certainly something we want to avoid. But it can also be beautiful, humbling, and intimate time with God and family.

2 Corinthians 1:8-10 - Affliction taught Paul not to trust in himself, but in God. God has repeatedly allowed countries to face wars, famines, and hardships when they became independent and failed to trust Him. Often this shows people their need for God.

Romans 5:3-5 - Rejoice in tribulations because they work steadfastness, approvedness, and hope.

1 Peter 1:6,7 - As gold is purified by passing through fire, so the genuineness of our faith is proved by trials. If suffering was limited to sinners and Christians never suffered, all people would want to be Christians, not because they really loved God, but just to avoid earthly problems.

Psalm 34:19 - "Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the Lord delivers him out of them all."

adapted from here

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