Through It All

Hi, this is pastor Ken, and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…

 Job 36:15 (NLT) But by means of their suffering, he rescues those who suffer. For he gets their attention through adversity.

As the counseling pastor here at Crossroad, one question I have to deal with on a fairly consistent basis is “If God is in control, did He cause the difficulty I am experiencing to happen to me?” When the suffering the person sitting in front of me is experiencing is the direct result of sin, their own or someone else’s, the quick answer is easy. It is the longer more involved answer, the one they are searching desperately for…that is more difficult to help them accept.

Quick answer…No, God does not tempt or cause us or anyone else to sin. James 1:13 (NKJV) Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. If that is true, then is God really in control? Yes…God does not cause anyone to sin, and so in that respect, He does not cause the pain of the consequences of sin to be inflicted upon us…but thankfully, neither will He waste it.

I am partial to the book of Job. It is among my favorites probably because God has used it to speak so very clearly into my own life. It is in fact where my ‘life verses’ come from. There is probably no better example in all of the Bible where we can learn so much about suffering. Our scripture for today teaches an incredibly important lesson about suffering and its value.

There is an old song penned and performed by Andree Crouch, ‘Through it All’,  that speaks to this very truth. The lyrics of the third verse of that song say, “I thank God for the mountains, and I thank Him for the valleys, I thank Him for the storms He brought me through. For if I’d never had a problem, I wouldn’t know God could solve them, I’d never know what faith in God could do.”  Essentially that is the truth contained in today’s verse. God doesn’t cause our suffering, but He is willing to use it so that He can show himself strong in the midst of it, and get our attention in the process. God will use our suffering to teach us things He needs for us to grow in our relationship with Him. This has happened in my life, and I would imagine He has done it in yours as well. Those lessons are often so valuable and so emotionally expensive, that we tend to never forget them. Although we generally never come to a place where we invite suffering, and in some cases wish we could learn the lessons in a less painful way…any other way, those all important lessons give us reason to be grateful for the adversity.

The fact that this whole process takes place brings to mind another wonderful promise from scripture. Hebrews 2:18 (NLT) says Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested. Jesus was perfect, He lived perfectly…but He didn’t have a perfect life. He was ridiculed and called crazy by His own family, He was ostracized and called demon possessed by His church leadership. He was mercilessly tempted by Satan, He was punished terribly for telling the truth, He was murdered because of yours and my wrongdoing. Yes, the sin of others caused Jesus a great deal of suffering. As a result, He is keenly aware of what that is like for you and me, and so uniquely suited to help us when we experience suffering at the hand of another’s sin.

Thankfully our final verses for today extend another promise of great hope when we are experiencing suffering because of the consequences of sin. Romans 8:35,37 (NLT) Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?… No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

Nothing…nothing…nothing, not even the consequences of sin, ours or someone else’s perpetrated against us can ever separate us from Christ’s love for us. Nor will Christ allow us to experience suffering without the opportunity for victory to come about because of it. The purpose in the pain are the many imperative and valuable lessons He wants us to learn as a result.

Lord, we don’t like it when we suffer. We especially don’t like it when we suffer as a result of someone else’s sin. Help us to have a changed perspective. Help us to see that you didn’t cause the visitation of suffering on our lives, but you aren’t willing that it be wasted either. You desire that we learn many good lessons even from painful circumstances. Thank you Lord for such a love and care that desires our best even out of someone else’s worst. In Jesus powerful name, Amen

So now, seeking out the lessons…go be awesome!