LAST GENERATION "Good News" EARLY MORNING FEATURED DEVOTIONAL#5 Thursday April 26 2012 Iyar 4, 5772
First the Suffering
by Joyce Meyer - posted April 26, 2012
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace [Who imparts all blessing and favor], Who has called you to His [own] eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely, and strengthen, and settle you. —1 Peter 5:10
“Why do we have to suffer?” “If God truly loves us, why do all the bad things happen to us?” I hear such questions often. For thousands of years, people smarter than I am have wrestled with those questions, and they still haven’t discovered the answers. I don’t even try to answer the questions. I do make one comment, however: “If God only blessed us after we became believers—if He took away all suffering, hardship, and turmoil for Christians—wouldn’t it be a way to bribe people into the faith?”
That’s not the way God works. The Lord wants us to come to Him out of love and because we know we’re needy—so needy that only He can fill those needs for us. The reality is that from the time of birth until we go home to be with Jesus, we will suffer at times. Some have harder tasks than others, but suffering is still suffering.
I also think that when people watch us as we turn to God for help in our hardships and they see our victories, it provides a witness to them. That witness may not always make them turn to Christ, but it does show God’s presence in our lives and makes them aware of what they’re missing.
Yes, we will suffer. The other day I had a new thought: Suffering results in thanksgiving. When our lives turn chaotic and we don’t know what to do, we turn to the Lord for help, and He answers our prayers and sets us free. God speaks to us and comforts us. And the result is that we’re thankful.
The time between suffering and thanksgiving is when the devil truly attacks our thoughts. He may begin by saying, “If God really loved you, you would not have to go through this.” It’s a subtle way of saying to us that serving God is useless. The truth is, we’ll have problems if we’re believers; we’ll have problems if we’re nonbelievers. But as believers, we’ll also have victories. As believers in Jesus Christ, we can have peace in the midst of the storm. We can enjoy our lives during the hardships because we truly believe that God is working on our behalf to bring deliverance.
The next attack of Satan is to whisper, “It’s not going to get better. You have served God for nothing. See, this is what happens when you really need help and trust God. He doesn’t care about you. If He truly cared, why would He allow you to suffer?”
This is where we have to stand firm. We can take courage from the story of Job. Few of us have suffered as he did—he lost his children, his possessions, and his health. His critics accused him of hypocrisy and deception. Because we know how Satan works, we realize that his so-called friends were tools of Satan. I’m sure they didn’t realize they were being used by the devil to discourage Job. But just because they weren’t aware, doesn’t mean Satan didn’t use them.
However, Job, a godly man, refused to listen. He said, “[. . . though He slay me, yet will I wait for and trust Him . . .]” (Job 13:15). He refused to allow Satan to attack his mind and make him question God. He didn’t understand what God had done. There’s no indication that Job ever understood. But one thing he knew, God was with him and he never doubted the love and presence of God.
That’s the attitude we want—that calm assurance of God’s love that says, “Though He slay me, yet will I wait for and trust Him.” We don’t have to understand or explain. In fact, I’ve heard it said this way, “Obedience is required; understanding is optional.”
Finally, if we suffer, it just may be a powerful reminder that we are walking the same paths as some of God’s greatest saints. Even in Peter’s time, they suffered. In their case, it was Roman persecution; in our case, it may be people who don’t understand us, or family members who turn against us. Regardless, suffering can and should end in thanksgiving.
My Master and my God, forgive me for always wanting the easy life. I admit that I don’t want to suffer, and I don’t like it when things go wrong. But I ask You to help me have a good attitude and to trust You to bring good out of it. I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.