I know, this is a bit off my usual topic of money, but hey – it’s good to shake things up a bit.
We’ve seen a lot of suffering in the world lately – devastation in Haiti, earthquakes all over the globe right now, extreme poverty and hunger and then of course diseases like cancer!
Cancer is something that my wife and I know well, three weeks before our wedding Jen was diagnosed with cancer, but just this past year we celebrated five years of remission!
Currently, one of my all-time favorite pastors that I listen to and follow closely, Matt Chandler – from The Village Church in Dallas, was diagnosed with brain cancer.
We can ask why these things happen and to some degree these things are a mystery. We do know that there is evil in the world, but that God is good. He is not the author of evil, but He does allow it so that He can work through it for His glory and ultimately our good.
I don’t pretend to know all the answers of why God allows it, but what is meant for evil, God uses for the good of others.
What’s been cool with Chandler is his attitude and desire to “suffer well” during this trial. The Associated Press ran an article on him about a month ago that is worth the read to get you up to speed onwhat’s been happening.
Here’s my two cents for what it’s worth -
God uses trials and suffering to test our faith
James 1:2-4 says:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
God uses these things to mature us as Christians, to put us through the refining fire to make us more like His Son. We won’t achieve that ultimately here on earth, but eventually when He calls us home we will.
God uses suffering to keep us trusting in Him
It’s crazy, but when things are going well with me – I tend to ignore God. I don’t pray as fervently, I don’t worship as strongly and I don’t look to Him as the source of every good thing.
But, when things go bad, I get on my knees, I pray like there’s no tomorrow, and I worship intensely. It’s a shame, but it’s true. How about for you? We need to keep looking to Him for the answer.
God uses suffering to point us to the ONE who ultimately suffered
That ONE is Jesus Christ, God’s Son. Christ left all the riches and glory of heaven to come down to this earth, become a man, live a perfect and holy life and ultimately suffer at the hands of men.
They beat Him, they mocked Him, they spit upon Him, they whipped and flogged Him shredding His back into a bloody mess – they put a crown of thorns on Him, nailed His hands and His feet to a Roman cross – the most disgusting way to die in that day – and lifted Him up for all to scorn Him.
And if that wasn’t enough – God poured out His wrath, the punishment for all of my sin and yours onto His Son – and Christ died.
But that wasn’t the end of the story – after three days He rose again from the dead, defeated death, set us free from the chains of sin and death and lives today! For all who turn from their sin and put their trust in Him – true life is available for all!
God uses suffering to point us back to Jesus’ ultimate suffering that He took on to make a way for us to have a right relationship with God Himself.
Hebrews 12:1-2 says:
…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
For more on suffering, check out this blog post by Geoff Ashley entitled Seven Thoughts on Suffering.
Here’s Chandler’s thoughts on suffering:
What are your thoughts on why God allows suffering?
Photo Credit: LM Otero / AP