Shortly after the last devotion my mother-in-law, who suffers from Parkinson, fell and broke her hip. During the past 4 months she has been in the hospital four times, rehab once and a clinic for evaluation once. She was completely bed ridden, needing 24-hour care, until the middle of January. She has endured a lot of suffering both physically and mentally. She is doing much better, but still weak and bound to a wheelchair.
Needless to say, we have had to make major adjustments to become the primary caretakers for my in-laws who live next door and our two sons who still live at home. Some of you have been caretakers of terminally ill family members and seen first hand the suffering and toll it takes. I now realize in a small way the Lord used what we went though mentally, physically and spiritually to care for our nephew to prepare us for this. All of a sudden that whole event doesn’t seem so random.
Once again the Lord prompts me to write out of life's experiences, but filtered through the truth of His Word. How does suffering fit into God’s plan for our lives? Doesn’t it seem to be completely counterproductive? Surely the time and energy spent could be better used to expand the Kingdom. In prayerful contemplation the Lord has lead me to several passages to summarize how suffering fits into His plans.
Now, it would take weeks to go into all the theological discussion on where suffering comes from, but it boils down to three main sources: the spiritual forces of evil, the wages of mans sin and the decay of fallen nature. Our discussion, however, is how suffering fits into God’s plans. Let me begin by saying there is one overarching reason and we get a sense of it in John 9:2,3 where we read, “And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Also, in John 11:4 concerning Lazarus, “But when Jesus heard it, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” We don’t like to be faced with it, but suffering is a way God shows His glory, character and plan.
The secondary reasons for suffering are numerous, but there are five that I see consistently in scripture related to punishment, witness, faith, growth and comfort . . . all to the Glory of God by making Himself known. Over the next several devotions we will look at them a little closer.
Peace unto you,