There’s one thing for sure —we all will suffer at some point in our lives. It’s inevitable! We’re told in the Bible that in this life we WILL suffer tribulations. But when suffering happens, even though we’re warned that it will, it can bring about an internal battle within. We can start to question why God would allow this to happen to us. From our viewpoint it doesn’t make sense.
It can also bring about an external battle within many marriages (and often does) where couples start to turn on each other. This causes even more suffering, more questioning, and more chaos.
To combat this, we’re going to share some insights from something we heard several years ago in a radio message given by Dr Charles Stanley from Intouch.org. It centered on the ways that “God Uses Our Suffering.” You may even want to use the following points as a Bible study either separately or together. You can discuss how they could apply to your situation, along with the scripture.
Even if your spouse won’t join you in partnership while you are suffering, or perhaps you are suffering because of things your spouse has done or said, we hope you will find at least some of the information within this message to be helpful. Ask God to enlighten you, help you to use the information you can use, and join Him in partnership to battle that which is confusing you and causing you additional pain.
Here’s what we learned from Dr Stanley’s sermon. The direct quotes from Dr Stanley are in “quotation marks” and the rest is summarized:
The question is, “If God loves us, cares for us, and wants the best for us, why does He allow all this suffering that goes on in the world? He could stop it if He wanted to. But somehow, He doesn’t seem to want to. What we don’t realize is that sometimes when nothing appears to be happening, God is patiently working. A good definition of suffering is: ‘Anything that causes us mental, physical, or emotional pain or irritates us in some fashion.’” (See: 1 Peter 4:12-19.)
Reasons God allows suffering:
1. To get our attention.
(See: Psalm 119:67 and again in Psalm 119:71.) Sometimes God wants to get our attention to look to Him and pay attention to that, which is important to God.
2. To develop righteousness and maturity in us.
God may be in the process of building maturity in us and by allowing certain events to happen to us, He knows we’ll “grow up” and become more mature in the process.
3. To prune us.
(See: John 15:1-2.) “He removes attitudes and habits that are harmful to our fruitfulness.” The whole pruning process is used by God to cut back useless things in our life to maximize our potential as Believers. He sees attitudes in our lives that don’t belong there. Plus, He prunes off what shouldn’t be there. God can’t stand stuff in our lives that cloud our vision of Him.
4. To teach us obedience.
(See: Hebrews 12:5.) “Sometimes people suffer because of their own disobedience.” When we become disobedient we can expect some kind of suffering.
5. To teach us to trust Him.
(See: 1 Peter 1:7.) “He tests our faith in order to strengthen it.” An example of this is in the principle of tithing.
6. To teach us to depend continually on His grace and goodness.
2 Corinthians 12 tells us that when we are weak, we are strong. If we want God to use us, suffering is going to be a part of our life. God uses it to teach us so we will gain wisdom. “Suffering in life and being used by God are inseparable.”
7. To manifest Christ’s life and character in us.
It’s to help us to be living examples of God’s character. And God’s character shines forth in us through times of sanding, sifting and pruning. Whatever the form of suffering we encounter, there is a Divine purpose involved. “When someone meets us, they will meet the Son of God in us.”
8. To purify our hearts.
A pure heart is a righteous heart —which is the will of God for us. Purity and God’s power go together. “There is no power in your ministry unless you are pure.” Keep in mind that all suffering is not a result of sin. God has a purpose in allowing suffering in our lives.
9. So we can share in the holiness of Christ.
(See Hebrews 12:10.)
10. To teach us to give thanks in everything.
(See: 1 Thessalonians 5:18.) “You don’t have to feel thankful to express gratitude that God is going to bring something good out of your experience.”
11. To develop character and perseverance.
(See: Romans 5:1-5.)
12. To enable us to share in the sufferings of Christ.
(See: Philippians 3:10.)
13. To prevent pride in our life.
(See: 2 Corinthians 12:9.)
14. To broaden our ministry.
(See: Philippians 1:12-13.) An example of this would be: “going through an experience of suffering and loneliness that extended His influence.”
15. To reveal the evil nature of mankind and the righteous judgment of God.
(See: 2 Thessalonians 2.) In this chapter it says, “The wicked will be judged.”
So, how should we respond?
You can pray the following: “Lord, what are You saying to me?” “Lord, whatever Your purpose is, I surrender to Your will.” “Give me the grace to bear this until You have accomplished Your will.”
Here are a few more thoughts to keep in mind, as it pertains to suffering:
— “Our values determine our evaluations. If we value comfort more than character, then trials will upset us. If we value the material and physical more than the spiritual, we will not be able to count it all joy. [This is what we’re told to do in James 1:2.] And if we live only for the present and forget the future, then trials will make us bitter not better.” (Warren Wiersbe)
Line Up Your Values
Ask God to help you to line your values up with His. When you do, your earthly suffering will make more sense.
— The enemy of our faith would like nothing more than to have marriage “partners” turn on each other. Marriage is a living picture of Christ’s love for the church. So why wouldn’t the attack be on marriage? This “picture” and you and your spouse are near and dear to His heart?
Please realize that if you’re fighting with each other, you’re not able to fight against the powers of darkness. You’re weakened in the battle. This is a great advantage for the enemy to take you and your marriage down, as well as cause problems on many different levels in the lives of those who witness the chaos. You need to fight the problem —NOT each other.
You, your spouse, and God can be a mighty force of strength. “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
To help you further in this issue of suffering, the following are a few links to additional articles you can read:
It is our hope that when times of suffering occur you will determine together to find ways to go through them united as a team (the best you can). Don’t let the enemy of our faith divide you.
Cindy and Steve Wright
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