Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering (Part 2)

walking-with-god-through-pain-suffering-social-mediaIn the first post of this series I shared three truths Christianity teaches in regards to pain and suffering. In that post I said that God uses pain and suffering for a purpose. God doesn’t allow things to happen in our lives for no reason. He uses pain and suffering in our lives with a purpose. In this post I want to continue that thought by sharing three ways God uses pain and suffering in our lives as Christians.

God uses pain and suffering to discipline us. One of the lies Christians buy into is that we can live in sin and nothing will happen. Maybe we boast that our sins are already forgiven and God’s grace is covering us. However, Paul says in Romans 6:1-2 that we should not use God’s grace as a license to sin. Because our sins are forgiven and we do have grace we should strive to live in holiness. But what happens when Christians walk in sin? What happens we start to live in a way that doesn’t line up with God’s Word and we chose not to repent? Hebrews 12:5-11 gives us the answer to those questions. When Christians live in sin God will discipline them. Like good parents discipline their children when they disobey, God as our perfect Father disciplines us when we walk in disobedience. He loves us too much to let us live in sin. Matt Chandler said it well in a sermon: “If you, as a believer in Christ, fondle what Christ put to death on the cross, please don’t be surprised when He breaks your hand. Please don’t be surprised when He breaks your legs when you keep running toward what He came to kill.”

God uses pain and suffering to grow us. Sometimes it’s not because of disobedience that God allows pain and suffering in our lives. Sometimes it’s just because He is trying to grow us up in our faith. Our faith usually grows the most in times of trials. James 1:2-4 is a great place to go to see this. James tells believers to actually “count it all joy” when trials coming. He says that because those trials, as hard as they may be, will strengthen our faith. Think about a football coach. If a coach wants to make his team better and stronger what does he do? He makes practices harder. He makes his guys lift more. He may even add additional practices and workouts. All of this may hard more pain and pressure onto the players but the coach knows at the end of it all they will be better and stronger. God knows in order to grow us up in our faith we often times have to go through pain and suffering.

God uses pain and suffering in mysterious ways. I would be foolish to believe that all pain and suffering fits into the two categories above. God may use it for one of those two reasons but He may also have a whole other reason in mind. Sometimes God allows pains and suffering into our lives and we have no idea why. That’s because God doesn’t have to reveal to us why He does what He does. The story of Job is a great example of this. Job really never learned why he went through what he went through. God never told him. Instead, God helped Job see who he was in light of Him. Job learned to trust God in light of pain and suffering. We, like Job, are often left in the dark about our pain and suffering but that doesn’t mean God doesn’t have a purpose for it. He knows what He is doing and we must trust Him.

Below is the sermon where I preached much of the content above. In the next post I will share a few things about God that we can remember and hold onto during times of pain and suffering.

Jeremiah on Trials

I am currently studying through the book of Jeremiah in my personal time with the Lord each day. Last night I read the first part of chapter 29. As I was reading through the verses, a few truths jumped out at me about trials. Before I share those with you, lets look at the context and see what is going on this the first part of chapter 29.

In 597 B.C. many of the Israelites (God’s chosen people) were carried away in exile to Babylon and this starts their 70 years of captivity there. This was part of God’s judgment on them for sin and disobedience. Sometime after this, Jeremiah wrote a letter to them to instruct them on what they should do during this time; chapter 29:1-23 is that letter. As I read this letter, I saw some important truths that we need to remember when we go through a trial. The people who were carried away to Babylon were in nothing short of a hardcore trial. You may not be carried away in exile to a foreign land, but you will go through trials. The things Jeremiah said to them can be applied to us and the trials we are going through. Let’s look at three truths Jeremiah shares about trials:

1. God send His people into trials. In verse 4, God says, “…to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile.” Did you get that? God sent His people into exile! The trial you are going through does not surprise God, He sent you into it! He planned that trial just for you. So when you are going through a trial, remember that God sent you into it for a reason. James 1:2, James tells us to “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials…” Why should we rejoice and count it all joy when we enter into trials? Read the next few verses in James and you will see that we should rejoice in trials because it makes us better Christians. We get stronger in our faith. The first thing Jeremiah tells us about trials is that God sends us into them.

2. Don’t try to fight your way out of a trial, stay in it until God brings you out of it. After God tells the exiles you sent them into the exile, he speaks through Jeremiah to tell them to settle in at Babylon because they will be there for a while. We know now that they will be there for 70 years! In verses 5-7, they are told to build houses, plant gardens, get married, seek the welfare of the city, and even pray for the city! God was telling them to stay put in this trial. The first thing many of us do when we enter into a trial is try to get out of it as fast as we can. We do everything within our power to try to fix it so we can get out of it. If we do that, we will not grow as Christians and that is the main point of God putting us through trials. It’s in the valley you really learn about trusting God and following Him. If you try to get out of the valley, your trial, and just reach the mountaintop than you may miss all God wants you to learn in the valley. The second things Jeremiah tells us about trials is we must stay in them until God is done doing what He wants to do.

3. Your trial will end and God has a future for you. In verse 10, God tells the exiles when the 70 years is complete, when their trial is over, He will visit them. The next verse could well be the most quotes verse in Jeremiah. Verse 11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” One of the things we start to tell ourselves during a trial is that it will never end and that God cannot have a plan for us that involves this mess. See, your trial is all part of the plan God has for you! He tells us in this verse that we have a future and a hope! It may be hard to believe or see this in a trail, but we must remember God has a plan!

I recently heard a song by the band Newsong called “The Same God.” In this song, there is a line that says, “The same God that led you in will lead you out.” Don’t forget the same God that leads us into trials is the same God that will lead us out. I’m in a trial right now and I know many other are as well. Don’t lose hope, trust God, He has a plan!