From the DayBreaks archive, July 2010:
There are many things about the ways of God that I can’t even begin to understand. I think that it must needs be so. He is infinite – I am finite. He knows all things – I know virtually nothing. He sees all things including thoughts – I see only what my eyes behold and I fail to understand what I see. I do not understand why little children are afflicted with leukemia and cancer, or why they are abused and mistreated by those who have responsibility to care for them. It is all beyond me.
As I prepared for my sermon this past Sunday in which I would be talking about difficulties and trust – even and especially when we don’t understand – I was pondering the value of suffering. I have often looked at the story of Job and wondered why it was necessary for Job to pass through such ordeals. Job is not alone – there are many in Scripture who suffered…there are many today who suffer. And I, like every other human who faces suffering, leap immediately to the “Why?” questions.
I want to know the why’s and wherefore’s, like the apostles who wondered why the man was born blind, or why the tower of Siloam fell and killed 18 people. In both of those cases, Jesus redirects their thinking from looking backwards for answers to the “Why” questions and to look instead at the present and future to try to understand God’s redemptive purpose in such events. In the case of the blind man, Jesus said it was so the glory of God could be manifested in that man’s life. In the case of the tower, the point was that God wanted to get us to consider whether or not we would be ready if the tower were to fall on us today or tomorrow. Neither looked backward…always forward to the furthering of God’s redemptive purpose.
I have often thought that the purpose behind suffering was for us to understand our own weakness and lack of faith – to reveal, if you will, our own little faith and to grow as a result. But, yesterday morning, I realized that this was a very self-centered view of suffering and its purpose. Might not God also allow us to suffer not so we come to realize how weak our faith is, but even more to understand how faithful God is? That view brings glory to Him – the other view is so focused on us that we might miss the very chance to bring glory to Him by trusting Him more.
There is a purpose behind each and every pain. That doesn’t mean each and every pain is caused by God, but simply that there is a purpose related to redemption – our own, and that of the world, in each hurt. Let us resolve to look forward to understand how God wants to use such events in our lives to further His kingdom.
Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62
PRAYER: Lord, help us to understand Your purpose for us today and tomorrow and each day for the rest of our lives. May we not concern ourselves with questions that are too big for us to ask, let alone understand, lest we get distracted and lose focus on what is most important. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>