January 5, 2011

Evil & Suffering XVIII: Pushes Us To Persevere and Trust God

Potential Reasons For Existence of Evil & Suffering III:

This is another case where the rubber meets the road. This is where you bend or give a little under the weight of the onus that is on you or collapse and fail. God doesn't just want people to talk the Good talk, He wants people that can walk the walk even under a hail of bullets aimed directly at them. Grace under fire. Tested in fire. Destroyed or redeemed. Penitent or released to punishment and judgment. To be forged in the fire and to walk out stainless and pure.

When you are in a really bad situation and have nowhere else to turn you can always turn to God as the old saying goes. When you’re at the bottom the only way to look is up. When people are totally driven to their knees in suffering and pain we are painfully aware of our hopelessness, our finite nature…our humanness. We are also in the exact position we need to be in to plead our situation to God and supplicate to the only One that can cause or make a change. When we are broken and especially when we are broken slowly and by degrees we often turn outside of ourselves for help since our internal resources are quickly drained. When the issue we confront defies rational or human explanation we tend towards the divine in our pursuit of support and/or answers. I do not believe this is an accident. It very well may be a sovereign God working through the evils of the world or through our pain and suffering to steer us to what is eternally important and quite often, it works. We know them as teachable moments. When people are broken they are more receptive to solutions they wouldn’t normally have considered or entertained as viable options. It turns us towards our faith and hope to the unseen. Along these lines, if we are Christians, we learn to trust God’s promises (Psalms 145). We know that God is immutable and unchanging. His promises stand forever because he is unchanging. This is rock solid assurance to those adrift on stormy seas. It gives those being tossed to-and-fro in suffering or driven totally under in a deluge of pain to anchor to or get solid mooring. (Howard, 139, 144).

Rightly understood suffering breeds patience and teaches mankind to turn to God as there are often few other places to turn for comfort at the peak of suffering and pain. Paul is clear on why a believer suffers also when he speaks of suffering in relation or its correspondence to glory in Romans 5. He is clear that the suffering believers endure is in direct proportion to the hope they will acquire in the character they’ve attained through endurance.

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope…” Romans 5:1-4

The mettle of one’s faith can only be tested in a time of suffering. Finding out how far the bar can be bent, twisted or distorted before it breaks can only be done under pressure or by force directed on it from an outside source. We must endure the refiner’s fire to help us burn off the impurities in us. The heat of the fire is a tempering heat. We either wilt from the flame or we persevere.

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