Some thoughts on suffering…

I was reading something a dear sister had written about suffering. The question about suffering is one that many people – Christians, non-believers, in Singapore, outside Singapore – ask. I also think it is one of the questions maybe Christians have in mind to ask Christ when they see Him face to face. I just wanted to share some truths that have helped me to deal with issues on suffering.

a. God is just (Ezra 9:15, Isa 5:16, Acts 17:31). God sees and hears and knows everything. He will make sure everyone receives the justice they deserve. Psalm 73 gives great insight. It seems like wicked people get away with doing wicked things in this life but they do not realise what a slippery slope they are on. Justice will be served in this lifetime or in the Day of the Lord. On that day, there will be no miscarriage of justice because God is the Righteous Judge and His ruling is perfect.

b. God does not do evil, man does (3 John 1:11). I’ve realised that I was asking the wrong question. When bad things happen, it is not God who is doing it. The wickedness we read about is all man’s doing but, for some reason, it seems easier to blame God. Or sometimes people ask why God didn’t prevent these events. The truth about it is this. God created man in His likeness. One of the ways He made us like Him is to give us the freedom to choose (free will). If God were to prevent someone from doing something, then it is not really free will. It is limited will. Regardless of the consequence, God lets humans do as they wish. Right now, things do not go totally haywire because Christians are still here. The Holy Spirit, working through God’s people, restrains evil. But Revelation tells us there will come a time when the Holy Spirit will leave the earth and then all manner of evil will take place (2 Thess 2).

c. Trial = test + temptation. I learned this from my dear brother, Henson. The word “trial” or “tribulation” carries with it a double-sided meaning. When faced with a trial, there is a test. This test is from God and it is an invitation for us to keep having faith in Him when times of suffering or hardship come. If we do so, our character and our faith grows. It is part of our refining so that we become more like Jesus. However, in every trial, the enemy also sends a temptation. The temptation usually leads to the trial being over sooner but it also takes us away from God. The life of Joseph in the book of Genesis demonstrates this.

I don’t want this to just be an intellectual post so here is how, I suggest, we can apply these truths.
a. Pray, preach, practice. God is not only just, He is also good! There are still many who need to hear the gospel and others who need to grow deep in their Christian faith. We can start by praying for them.
Pray for the lost to be saved and that every blockage and bondage preventing their salvation to be removed. Pray for the saved to keep on being saved so that they know God better.
Preach the Word of God to them. They will not know if they have not heard. They will not hear unless someone tells them.
Practice what you learn. This is called obedience to God. When you obey, you model Christ for others. This may include standing for righteousness, showing mercy and grace, and loving others.

b. Get out of this habit of blaming God. Rather, ask God what He would have you do when things around you are not going well. Shake of your apathy and God will replace it with some sort of action. While the Holy Spirit is still here, let us take our lead from Him and play our part in the restraining of evil.

c. Rejoice when you face trials! Thank the Lord that you have an opportunity to prove how good and how faithful He is. God is refining you so don’t resist even though the trial may be longer. And, if you have given in to temptation, come back to the cross. Repent and be restored and the follow Christ again i.e. avoid falling into that temptation again!

None of these is accomplished by human effort. It is the Holy Spirit who will work it out in and through us for the sake of Christ’s glory. Selah…

What do you reckon?