I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
–2 Corinthians 12:10
Why suffering? Yesterday we saw two reasons God allows suffering to come into our lives: some suffering is the result of living in a fallen world, and some is the result of our own disobedience. Third, the Bible says God allows some suffering for our strengthening. James 1:3 says, “The testing of your faith produces endurance.” Have you found this to be true? It is not during the easy times that you are stretched in your relationship with God but during the difficult times. I bet you can look back on some experience in your life that you would have never chosen, but you can honestly say it drew you closer to God and matured your faith.
Fourth, some suffering teaches us the sufficiency of God. Sometimes God allows problems in our lives to remind us that He alone is sufficient to meet our every need. I think of the great reformer Martin Luther. You may not know that he went through intense times of depression. And it was during one of the most trying years of his life that he wrote the famous hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” Notice these words: “And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God has willed his truth to triumph through us.”
We can say, “I believe God is sufficient to take care of my problems.” But we really do not believe it until we are at the end of our rope and we are forced to trust in God.
We usually view suffering from an “under the sun” perspective–a human perspective. Pastor Tommy Nelson gave a good illustration of an “above the sun” perspective of suffering. He asked the pianist at his church to play “Jesus Loves Me” on the piano using only the white keys. It sounded fine, but it was a little bit boring. Then he asked her to play the song using as many black keys as she wanted. To me, there is something depressing about those sharps and flats–by themselves, they are almost intolerable. But Tommy said when the pianist played the song with the black keys added in, it was rich and beautiful.
He wrote, “God has a plan like a Beethoven sonata, beautifully intermingling white keys and black keys. The white keys by themselves are boring. The black keys by themselves are troublesome. When you put them together, they’re lovely.” God has so composed our lives that He uses both the good things and the hard things to accomplish His perfect and beautiful plan.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Why Suffering?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.
Mark Galli, “The Weak Man behind a Mighty Fortress,” Christian History, 1993, https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-39/weak-man-behind-mighty-fortress.html; Tommy Nelson, “A Life Well Lived: A Study of the Book of Ecclesiastes” (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2005), 49-51.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.