28 Jan The Blessings of Suffering
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” Matt 5:3
Jesus taught that the world seen from God’s viewpoint is tilted in favour of the oppressed. But why would God single out the oppressed for special attention?
- Suffering helps us realize our urgent need for redemption.
- Suffering helps us experience our dependence on God and our interdependence upon one another.
- Suffering helps us distinguish between necessities and luxuries.
- Suffering helps us respond to the call of the gospel because we may have become so desperate that we cry out to God.
The poor, the hungry, the mourners and those who suffer are blessed because their lack of self-sufficiency is obvious to them every day. They must turn somewhere for strength. So they are more likely to welcome God’s free gift of Love. The weaker we feel, the harder we lean on God.
Suffering is a test. It’s a test of our faith, our character, our values and our love for God. It’s a test that can make us bitter or better. It can make us bitter if we jump to the wrong conclusions about why God has allowed our pain. It can make us better if our eyes are opened to the wonder, power, goodness, and love of God.
My practical lessons drawn from the life of Job: the exchange between God and Satan carries some valuable lessons for us when suffering comes.
- Our suffering may be for a supernatural cause. Job did not know that God had singled him out as upright, or that Satan was masterminding the attack.
- God limits Satan. Though the devil is the “god of this age,” he can go only as far as God will allow.
- God knows all about us, just as He knew about Job. We do not go unnoticed.
- God uses our suffering to show His glory. Job’s response was to witness God’s grace.
Seeing God from our perspective: God has not promised us a suffering-free life. He may let us lose what may have taken us a lifetime to accumulate. So the same God who sends us good may let us suffer physical or emotional anguish. Therefore He will not change because our circumstances change. In our bad times, He is still a good, kind and compassionate God.
We may learn from Job’s friends that we can know certain things about God, but we cannot know everything. Our friends may lead us to wrong conclusions about Him. We need to be aware of assuming that we know what God is doing in someone else’s life or in our own. Through out Job’s life and speeches, God’s majesty as Creator of the universe and Source of life is reflected. God is our Source of wisdom and strength in every changing situation. And during the times of trouble, we must cling on to what we know about the goodness of God. We can express our hurts and anger to our God when we are afflicted or suffer. In trouble, it helps us to look beyond the moment to the time when our Living redeemer returns. This will help us to praise God in times of suffering.
From the day Adam and Eve left their garden paradise, suffering has been a part of life. To expect to live free from it is to ask more than what God has said He will grant. The supernatural reason for our suffering may never be revealed to us. So the resolution to suffering is to be found in God’s character. He is All-wise, Infinite, Holy and good God. We are the creatures and He is the creator; let us rest in Him and trust in His incomprehensible perfection and goodness. Jesus knew the reality of His excruciating pain. He knew bone-racking tiredness. He endured mental anguish and emotional distress. He was tempted in every way we are. And He is our Great High Priest, who understand all that we go through, and never stops interceding for us in the Heavenly Sanctuary. Therefore our faith need not fail. We may lose our loved ones, we may know prolonged intense pain, our bodies may fail and our emotions will crack; but we can always maintain our faith in God.
Rev. Dr. Subrata Fullonton has been serving the Most High God since 1970. His family lives in Sainikpuri, Hyderabad.