Devotional for Friday, June 2, 2017, with Jim Lucas, pastor at Grace Point – Lebanon campus
Suffering exists in our world! That’s an understatement, to say the least! children and adults suffer because of malnutrition. Children and adults alike suffer because of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. One can suffer because of a stroke, a terrible accident, the loss of a close loved one, war, violence, disaster, disease, crime…the list could go on. Who wants to suffer? Not I, for sure. But I have. As they say, you’ll experience suffering if you live long enough. Well, I’ve lived long enough! At least it’s not wrong to ask God why He allows suffering. Habakkuk 1:3 finds the prophet asking God: “Why do You (God) tolerate oppression? Why are destruction and violence before me?” Honest questions to an honest God.
For the prophet Habakkuk, God walked him through his concerns, and helped him get a clearer understanding of matters, and as a result, Habakkuk gained greater faith in God. True, there’s so much suffering because of the broken relationship that happened in the Garden of Eden between Adam/Eve and God. Sin came into the world because of disobedience. Life was perfect before then. There was no suffering. But sin changed all that. Yet, God does not cause suffering but he can allow it to happen to help mold us, strength our faith, even use our experiences of suffering to help others through theirs. What happened in the garden? Adam/Eve challenged Jehovah’s Rulership because of satan’s conversation with them. In effect, they were saying by their choice – we don’t need Jehovah as our ruler. We can decide for ourselves what is right and wrong. Wow! How bold. How disobedient. Everything changed. And were we to look back through centuries of history, we see how man has tried ‘self-rule’ and how bad that’s often turned out. We weren’t designed to rule like God. He alone is the Almighty, Sovereign-ruling, living God!
For me, the personal response is this. I know God has not abandoned me, or us. He deeply and sincerely loves me..and us. The pain and suffering that this world (even nature groans: Romans 8:22 “we know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time“) is going through right now WILL come to an end. God has promised that. When the ‘new heaven and the new earth‘ comes [Rev 21:1], we will be a whole, redeemed people, made in the likeness of God. I John 3:2 “We shall see Him as He is…[I Cor 15:51-53] because we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye….when the trumpet sounds.” O Glorious Day…when all pain and suffering STOPS, and every tear is wiped away. Sorrow and sighing shall flee away when Jesus comes to reign!! Hallelujah. That is the hope I have in Christ. That is why I MUST keep my eyes on Jesus; my HOPE in His eternal promises; my REST in His love for me. Without Jesus, I would be hopeless, lost, done. Finished. BUT I’M NOT!
I’m not finished. I’m only just beginning this incredible walk with Him that, occasionally, may lead me through tough waters or intense fires. Isaiah 43:2 promises “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” Thank you Jesus. Is suffering easy or fun? I wouldn’t say so, but He will take me through ANYTHING safely to the other side. I’ve often thought that it’s not the things I face in life that matter, as much as my response to it. My RESPONSE will reveal my true spiritual heart. So, does my response honor & give witness to God? Therefore, I don’t struggle if suffering or anything else comes my way. I know God has allowed it, has entrusted it to me, and He will guide me safely through it. He will NOT abandon me. He will guide me safely to my eternal home. And I have HIS WORD on it! Amen.