The following quotes are from Oswald Chambers Devotional “The Habit of Rising to the Occasion.” Commentary is my interpretation and application of the insights.
Truth 1: God sends difficulties our way for His purpose(s) and ultimately for His glory.
God never wastes our sorrows. Our grief isn’t in vain. There is a purpose even when we can do little more than weep and desperately cling to God. God’s Ways aren’t ours and His Good Plans for us are beyond our ability to comprehend and recognize (fully). See my previous blogs for more on this:
In 2 Corinthians Chapter 4, Paul talks about his apostolic ministry. Even when facing difficulty, Paul doesn’t lose hope! The Gospel truth is powerful! Knowing that God has paid for our sins and holds us (consider John 10) gives us hope. God’s glory shows through our weakness! It’s the desperate person who cries out to God for help. Are you desperate for Christ’s presence? Have you ever considered how that Paul and others endured so many hardships?
Truth 2: Life is about living in and for Christ
The answer appears in 2 Cor. 4 verse 10 last half of verse, “so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body” and verse 14, “knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you.” Chapter 5 expands on this glorious truth.
2 Corinthians 5:6-10 NASB
6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
Chambers reminds us: “God is the Master Designer, and He allows adversities into you life to see if you can jump over them properly.” Paul and others faced many difficult situations, unfair treatment, and physical abuse because the Gospel was more important than being comfortable or successful! That’s why he and Silas were able to sing praises after being beat and imprisoned [Acts 16:25-31]. Life is about more than our present circumstances.
We must walk by faith and not by sight. Our sight isn’t adequate. We can’t see what’s going on (behind the scenes or being directed from God). Our faith reminds us that no matter what happens, God is good because He reveals Himself to be good. God isn’t good because things go well for us, but because it’s His Nature. God is Sovereign, so we can rest knowing that He is in charge. God isn’t surprised by human evil. He’s not caught off guard by the immense cruelty and hatred of this world. He sees it all!
God is the Perfect, Righteous Judge who judges every heart. We don’t have to force justice in our lives. Praise God! This frees us from the vicious cycle of resentment, despair, and hatred. Paul reminds us that we too will have to give an account in verse 10 above. When I consider the depth of God’s grace and forgiveness concerning my sins, I recognize that I must forgive others. For more of this topic see my blog:
Friend, perhaps the reason Christ hasn’t returned is because He is being merciful, waiting, and calling wicked, lost people to repentance. Every day He delays His return is a chance for one more person to accept His grace and be born again from above. When He returns it’s too late to repent!
Ever wonder why God doesn’t just strike down all the evil and malicious people who destroy others? Consider that if God struck down everyone who had anger or malice in his/her heart, who would be left alive on this earth? Jesus and Paul remind us that we are all sinners worthy and deserving of God’s Righteous Wrath (John 3, Romans 1-3)!
Truth 3: Trials have meaning and purpose: that we become more like Christ
Let’s be clear on this point: when we are facing trials and difficulties, we often will not know the why (reasons behind). God doesn’t tell us why that we or others suffer (specifically) except in general terms. In short, because we are sinners living in a world with other sinners; we will suffer because of our own sins and those of others. This is a consequence of Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God. Accidents, death, cancer, diseases, wars, hatred, injustice, and many other painful realities plague our world. God sent Jesus to redeem and make all things new. Until Christ returns, all of creation groans awaiting His Triumphant Second Coming. Things aren’t going to be right until He returns!
For more on the problem of whys:
1 Peter 4:12-16 NASB teaches us:
Share the Sufferings of Christ
12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though something strange were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that at the revelation of His glory you may also rejoice and be overjoyed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory, and of God, rests upon you. 15 Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; 16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.
As Christians, we will not walk on water or feed thousands of people with small loaves and fish. But we can be like Christ when we suffer. Everyone will suffer at times–that’s reality. As we face trials and difficulties, yet remain faithful trusting in Christ, we radiate God’s glory to our dark world. While this may be of little comfort during your dark moments, it’s an important truth. Chambers says it this way:
Ever been around a person who has been “softened” by difficulties in life? These precious souls tend to be more gracious, loving, accepting, and compassionate. This happens because suffering and difficulties led this person deeper to Christ. As he or she went deeper in trusting Jesus, the person becomes more like Christ. Jesus was a Man of Sorrows and it shows in how He interacts with people in the Gospels.
Truth 4: The Proper Goal of Life
Chambers reminds us “We are here to submit to His will so that He may work through us what He wants.” As we daily walk with Christ, we submit to His will even when it leads us into deep, dark waters. Life is about us (selfish ways) or living for Someone Much Greater.
God works through us as He desires in accordance with His Perfect Will. Paul learned this lesson on the road to Damascus. He was on his way to persecute, but when Jesus revealed Himself, his life changed forever. Life was no longer about Paul or his religion, but about proclaiming God’s Good News. Paul encountered Someone much greater than himself.
Chambers also warns against making demands of God. He reminds of Jesus’ example. Jesus came to earth to die. Jesus humbled Himself and submitted to His Father’s Plan of Redemption. Obviously, Jesus is our example. Got questions provides a good explanation of what it means that Jesus “learned” from suffering.
Truth 5: Brokenness is a sign of being useful
Chambers explains, “Once we realize this (that God works through us what He wants), He will make us broken bread and poured-out wine with which to feed and nourish others.” Consider that the bread must be broken and the wine poured out! A loaf of bread must be broken to be eaten. That’s why that modern bread is sliced so that it can be eaten with ease.
Wine is poured out to be drunk. The ancients mixed water and wine in various ratios. Wine was kept in skins or jars to be mixed with water prior to drinking. For us to be any use to God or others we will first be broken and poured out. Our past and present difficulties are obviously opportunities to bless others!
May God’s grace and compassion fill your life to overflow onto others,