Triumphant in Suffering
What a strange thought! Is that not being too optimistic? Can any good thing come out of trouble?
“And we know that to them that love God, to them that are called according to His purpose, all things work together for good.” (Romans 8:28). One thing is certain; being human, we are bound to experience trouble, “for man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:7). Troubles do not fly away the moment one becomes a Christian. The Lord warned, “In the world ye shall have tribulation” (John 16:33).
Coping with trouble becomes, therefore, an inescapable aspect of life; handling it wisely is one of life’s biggest challenges. The word of God speaks further, “Man, who is born of a woman, is of few days and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower, and is cut down. He also flees like a shadow, and doesn’t continue.” (Job 14:1-2).
Suffering is an inescapable part of life. Trying to run away from it, or wishing for a troublefree life is futile. Murmuring and complaining bring no solutions. God kindly gives us the solution in His Word. In suffering, learn how to find blessing, joy, opportunity and a means of bringing glory to God. God turns losses into gain. Through suffering we learn how to minister to others. Opportunities to witness are opened to the saints as they suffer and respond according to the will of God.
Yes, we have noted that suffering can play a role in the making of a person. At the same time, it also has a way of bringing to light what that person is presently made of. The same sun that melts wax, hardens clay. We have to understand God and His words, and it will help us to rightly face things. “See now that I, even I, am He. There are no gods with me. I kill and make alive. I wound and I heal.” (Deuteronomy 32:29). This observation helps us understand why human response to the trials of life can vary so widely. Some people, when overtaken by trouble, go to pieces.
Others come to their senses. Possibly you have heard of the men described in the couplet that follows:
• Two men looked out from prison bars: one saw mud, the other, stars.
• A commonly heard opinion declares that life is 10 percent what you make it and 90 percent how you take it.
Although not found in the Bible, those words express an idea that is compatible with Bible truth. Jesus, for example, pronounces a blessing upon those who rejoice even in the midst of persecution! Let’s recall the words of David: “It is good for me that I have been afflicted.” (Psalm 119:71). Why could he say that? Evidently God had taught him how to get the most out of his troubles. I hope we are all eager to learn this lesson because it is so essential.
Some negatives to avoid
• Do not set your heart on a trouble-free life to begin with - don’t waste your time, wishing for a trouble-free life.
• Do not seek selfish benefits – do not try to get the wrong thing out of your trouble – with very little effort, a person can make this mistake.
Some positive guidelines
• View trouble as a teacher – some prefer bitter medicine over sweet – is not beneficial. Although it hurts, they like to put iodine into their wounds: it hurts good.
• View trouble as a challenge – the second guideline is to view trouble, not as a hardship to escape, but as a challenge to meet.
• Face trouble one day at a time – meet troubles one day at a time. One saint, in looking back over her life, made this acknowledgement “I have had a lot of trouble, most of which never happened.” Borrowing trouble from tomorrow is an all too common habit, but it is a bad habit, because it unfits one for dealing wisely with today’s trouble. An anxious patient asked his doctor, “How long shall I have to lie here and suffer?” Kindly and wisely the doctor replied, “Just one day at a time.” That is more than merely human counsel, it is also our mandate from heaven. In essence, it corresponds with Matthew 6:34, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil (trouble) thereof.” This is our Lord’s way of telling us to leave the future to Him and be prepared for the present.
• View trouble as God’s school - view trouble as a school in which God wants to train His children. It has been observed that whenever God has needed some choice human instrument for a particularly difficult role, He nearly always puts him through some school of hardship. It appears as though God has lessons to teach that can be learned nowhere but in the school of suffering. He wants to build into our character qualities that evidently can be acquired nowhere else. Justification for this view of suffering and these claims is found in 1 Peter 5:10: “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a little while, perfect, establish, comfort and settle you.” In the light of this revelation, it might even be permissible to liken suffering to God’s post-graduate training school, where those who have attended His other schools are further perfected.
Through His servant the Psalmist, God warns us, “Be ye not as the horse, or the mule, which have no understanding; whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle” (Psalm 32:9). The typical young, unbroken horse is stubborn and uncooperative. Consequently, it suffers a great deal with little gain – a waste of pain. The point of the passage is that with us it ought to be different. Possessing God-given understanding, we ought to be co-operative so that God, by various means, including trouble, can break us, make us, and conform us to the image of His Son. While attending this school, you will receive further training in the best ways to respond to hardship. On the negative side, you will be taught, “Despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him.” (Hebrews 12:5).
King Saul attempts to kill David with his javelin
Bro Gaius Egwu (Ohafia, Nigeria)