The suffering and persecution of Christians around the world stirs our souls. Suffering makes for good prayer requests, passionate discussions and inspiring sermons. All the prayer, burdens and support are noble, but it changes when the one that suffers is you (or me)!
I don’t like to suffer and I have not met anyone who does. Many assume that when we suffer, God is angry with us or punishing us in some way.
There are times that God brings suffering into our lives. Usually as a way of turning us from sins we refuse to let go of. We need look no further than the story of the Nation of Israel to see that.
But God will also allow us to suffer for His own purposes. Job will attest to that. We need to remember that God has a purpose for everything because He is a God of purpose!
How should we respond when God allows suffering in our lives once we have discerned that it is not the result of unconfessed sin?
1 Peter 5:10 gives us a glimpse of God’s purpose.
1 Peter 5:10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
We must remember is that God is a God of grace. The suffering God allows is temporary and not eternal.
This verse shows us four clear purposes for suffering.
Suffering Can Make Us Perfect
The Greek word for perfect means, “to make one what he ought to be”. God’s purpose will never be to destroy us. Everything God allows in our lives is to make us the Christians we ought to be.
[bctt tweet=”Everything God allows in our lives is to make us the Christians we ought to be.” username=”michaelkduff”]
God may allow us to suffer as a way of getting our attention in order to make adjustments in our lives, when we are unwilling to listen.
Suffering Can Stablish Us
The idea here is that He is going to ground you. My own interpretation of this is that God may use suffering to drive the roots of our faith deeper.
He wants to build our faith on something other than wood, hay and stubble.
Suffering Can Strengthen Us
σθενόω – Sthenóō (from sthenos, “strength”) – properly, to make strong so as to be mobile.
God’s purpose may be that we suffer to strengthen our faith to make us better witness or servants.
Who do you know that has suffered through a trial that later became part of their testimony to minister to and serve others?
God may allow us to suffer as a way of strengthening us to do battle!
Suffering Can Settle Us
This does not seem to make sense. How can suffering settle us? For the answer we need to look back to the original Greek. To settle means, “to lay the foundation”.
Suffering will always require rebuilding in some way. It may be health, it may be relationships or a whole new life.
God’s purpose in suffering, like the wise man who built his house upon the rock (Mathew 7:24-27), is to give us a solid foundation to build on as we grow out of it.
No one wants to suffer, but we know that we will at some point. Can we have the faith to look at it as His work in our lives to accomplish His purposes?
On the other side of our trial, will God be glorified in us?
How has suffering made you stronger in your faith? Post a comment to encourage someone who may be going through a similar trial!