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Making Sense Out of Suffering (Part 1)

A sign on the wall of a junior high classroom contained these words: "Experience is the hardest teacher. It gives the test first and then the lesson." This truism was likely forgotten by most of the students who used that classroom. Likewise, many do not realize or forget that the experiences of the life, whether difficult or pleasant, tend to be followed by an understanding of the lessons they are intended to teach us. Let us examine the general principles you can apply to your specific circumstances to begin to understand the lessons of suffering.

The Lessons from Suffering
During a particular time of testing or suffering God may seem distant or disinterested in our plight. That's because our human emotions can override trust in God's truth, and we can come to believe that no outcome to our present situation is desirable for us. Job, on the other hand, shows us the kind of endurance and patience that is eager to trust God and learn whatever lessons His sovereign purpose desires us to learn. It was that very trust that caused him to glorify God at the conclusion to his time of suffering: Job 42:2-6.

As a result of patience and unwavering trust during his long ordeal, Job gained a new understanding of his sovereign God and a greater reassurance of the joys of being dealt with as one of His children. It is this joy that I want to focus on first in our look at the lessons from suffering.

1. Suffering Produces Fresh Joy
It is possible, by grace, to rejoice in the midst of suffering. It is also true that the joy we experience from our trials can be some of the greatest joy we ever know. Since one of the major reasons God sends trials into the believer's life is to test the very genuiness of his faith (Gen. 22), what more fitting occasion to have joy than in the aftermath of an experience of suffering that has proved the reality of our salvation? A strengthened assurance of our salvation and confidence that God cares for us, as manifest in the reality that our suffering could neither break our faith nor sever us from His love, is cause for the highest happiness.

True joy does not come cheaply or as a fleeting, superficial emotion. real joy is produced by much deeper factors than the circumstances that produce superficial happiness. 1 Peter 1:3-3; Eph. 1:11-13.

2. Suffering Enhances Future Glory
God brings sufferings, trials, persecutions, and other kinds of adversity as vital events in our spiritual growth process.The familiar verses in James 1:2-4, confirm this truth succinctly.That refers primarily to our life on earth. But Peter bridges present suffering to future glory when he says that God, who has called us to glory, will "perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you" (1 Peter 5:10).

As long as we are in this world, we are called to bear suffering patiently and see it through to God's ultimate purpose. That's when we begin to see that suffering is beneficial- it is part of our final perfection and glorification. The lesson for us is that whenever we suffer and emerge patiently and faithfully from it, God is pleased because we increasing our eternal capacity to glorify Him. we too should take great pleasure and joy in the outcome of a time of suffering, trial, or persecution, realising that we are enhancing our heavenly reward and understanding more about the power of suffering (see Rev.2;10).

(Remaining to be Contd next week) (Part 2)

Be Encouraged

*************************Letter # 36 (22.9.2002)***************

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