Saturday, June 4, 2011

My Plans for You 6) Suffering Yields Faith

Earthquakes, tsunamis and tornadoes have captured our attention, changed our lives and shook our world. What are we to think? How does this kind of suffering fit in God’s plan? In the last devotion, we learned one overarching reason for suffering being for the glory of God. Then five secondary reasons for suffering as related to faith, growth, punishment, witness and comfort.

Natural disasters, unforeseen calamity and sudden harm all seem to raise the question of “Why?” The thought today, whether we actually say it or just quietly think it, is no different than in the day of Job. The reason it has not changed in over 3,500 years is because of mans strong, yet limited, sense of fairness and justice. Suffering must be punishment for wrongdoing or sin! Even Job pleaded his case before God.

In the days of Jesus, some Galileans were murdered during worship and Jesus responded by saying, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no!” - Luke 13: 2, 3a. Jesus then went on to add, “Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no!” - Luke 13: 4, 5a. The lesson here is to never judge someone by their hardships and afflictions.

So then really . . . “Why?” The answer lies in verses 3b and 5b, where Jesus repeats the statement, “But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” The answer does not lie in whether those who died are more sinful than those who were spared, but in a completely different question. The real question is, “How are you going to respond now that you have been sparred to breathe another day?” These sufferings of life make us either more defiant in our pride or more thankful in our humility. Job ultimately responded to the disasters in his life by saying, “I had heard of you (Lord) by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” - Job 42:5,6.

Suffering causes our faith to be challenged and hopefully strengthened as we learn to trust more completely in Almighty God.

For some it may be new found faith as they trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior for the first time and for others it may be a return to faith or a deepening of faith. Jesus told his disciples on the way to see Lazarus, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may BELIEVE. But let us go to him.” - John 11:14a, 15.

So quit asking “Why?” and instead ask, “Will our breath be filled with repentance turning from sin or will we go on unchanged? Will our lives become filled with spiritual fruit or will we go on centered around self?”

Peace be with you.

Paul LaBathe

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