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Making Sense Out of Suffering (Part 2)

<< (Part 1) We started examining the general principles you can apply to your specific circumstances to begin to understand the lessons of suffering. Let us continue to understand the other lessons of suffering.

3. Suffering Produces True Comfort
God allows troubles and sufferings so that He might give us much comfort and we can comfort others. God's comfort comes to us not as end in itself nor merely for our own benefit. Second Corinthians 1:4 indicates a definite purpose: "so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction." Comfort, therefore, is something that God entrusts to us so that we can share it with others. And it is entrusted to us in direct proportion to the amount and intensity of suffering we endure, which means the more we suffer, the more we're comforted; and the more we're comforted, the more we can be comforters.
Finally, one of the most cherished products that genuine comfort will give us is the assurance of a partnership in suffering. As part of the Body of Christ we are not alone and do not experience suffering in a vacuum. Partnership in suffering is vital. If comfort allows us to be comforters, then obviously other people are being affected by the outcome of our suffering experience. (2Cor. 1:6-7). It is also motivation for us to be encouraged as we emerge from any period of suffering. The comfort we receive from the Lord helps us look beyond ourselves and reminds us that others in our local body can benefit from our comfort. These other believers can in turn be a comfort to us later on as they go through their own trials. Therefore, all our sufferings enable us to minister to each other in genuine body life fashion. 1Cor. 12: 26.

4. Suffering Yields Greater Wisdom
Wisdom has always been one of the most valued character traits that a believer could possess. Wisdom from God pulls everything together during suffering, helps us to endure it, and allows us to have a right perspective. But wisdom is something we must not presume will be ours or that we can gain in our own strength. James tells us to ask God for wisdom (Jam.1:5). It is not a detached academic knowledge or some philosophical speculation. It is the practical undertsanding of how to live life in obedience to the will and Word of God and for His glory (Prov. 3:6-7;4:11;8:12;10:8:14:8).
In the context of suffering, therefore, we need to ask God for wisdom to help us persevere scripturally. We need His help to see sovereignty and providence working in our situation, to have a joyful attitude, and to respond submissively.

5. Suffering Yields True Humility
One of the most humbling , yet least regarded, truths concerning suffering is that they do not exclude favourites.This principle operates all through natural world. disasters, accidents, crimes, diseases, economic recessions, and wars affect people of all classes.
The realization that difficulty does not discriminate tends to sober and humble believers as well. Those who are better off materially need to welcome trials because they remind us that our true dependency is on God and His grace, not in our privileged economic status. The humiliation of trials will also remind us that earthly riches are temporary; they fade away like grass.

Therefore, there is a great levelling factor at work in the process of suffering, trials, and persecutions. True humility teaches all believers, whether of high position or low, to say with sincerity, "My resources are in God."

It is always a challenge for believers to keep their hearts and minds focussed properly through a difficult trial or time of suffering. Even with the promise of lessons learned and rewards realised, the certainty of those benefits can seem more theoretical than real. But we can have a much greater confidence in the reality of all these things if we simply remember these words: "For we live by faith, not by sight." (2 Cor. 5:7). God's purposes are not always apparent at the start of a trial, but that need not deter us from keeping our eyes on Him.

Be Encouraged.

**********************Letter # 37 (29. 9. 2002)******************
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