The hardest question to give an answer to is, the “Why?” question as we or someone we know goes through intense trials. It is, no doubt, the most often asked question. Yet, it is the question that most times has no immediate answers.
Job’s friends, believed that all Job went through was because of some sin in his life. Therefore, God was somehow punishing Job with the incredible heartache and pain he was suffering. Those men were able to somehow, gather the evidence, prosecute the case, and convict Job of sin. Although they were convinced of Job’s failures, they were wrong.
We must be careful ourselves, to not make assumptions that others have gotten what they have deserved as they go through trials. It is true that God will chastise His own, but that is not for us to determine.
Though it is true that we may not understand exactly what the Lord is doing through our trials, the Word of God does give us many reasons for our sufferings.
• To Glorify God
1 Peter 1:7-9 “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.”
• To Develop Patience
Romans 5:3-5 “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”
• To Enter into Christ’s suffering
1 Peter 4:12-13 “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”
• To Teach Us the Word of God
Psalm 119:50 “This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.”
Psalm 119:67 “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.”
Psalm 119:71 “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.”
There are many other Scriptural reasons as to why God allows pain and heartache into our lives. Most have to do with our personal spiritual development, and our relationship with the Lord.
One purpose that we many times overlook, is the impact that our trials have on those around us. The people that are in our sphere of influence are watching us as we navigate our trials. They are watching to see if our God is real. Paul wrote to the Corinthian church about the fact that his trials could have a great impact on them.
2 Corinthians 1:3-7 “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.”
We most times stay focused on the personal impact of our trials, and forget that there is a world of people watching us. Yes we will experience the comfort of God, and the peace that passes all understanding through our trials. But, how will we use that truth to help others see Christ in us?
I often say that the Christian life is not so much how we act, but how we react to life. We have been given the Holy Spirit to comfort us through our trials, and we are commanded to comfort others with that same comfort. When people see us stay faithful, without complaining our way through trials, they will get a glimpse of God’s strength working in us.
Paul went so far as to say that the salvation of some of those in Corinth could come as a result of the Apostle’s sufferings. Friend, our suffering is designed to do a work in us, transforming us into the image of Christ. But, it is also to show others Christ working in our lives. It’s not all about us!! I read an interesting meme recently that said, “Someone had to go into the fire, so that, Nebuchadnezzar could see the Lord.”
The fiery furnace may not be fun, but it is effective. May others see Christ in us in the midst of our trials.