Suffering and sickness in the Holy Bible – Part 7
The Suffering Of The Righteous Cont.
Response: we must confess known sin and examine our lives to see if there is anything that displeases the Holy Spirit. (b) God sometimes uses suffering to test our faith, to see whether we will remain faithful to Him. God allowed Satan to afflict Job in order to test Job’s faith (see Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6): Would Job remain committed to the Lord, or would he curse God to His face? James calls the various trials we face “the trying of your faith” (Jas 1:3; 1:2); through them, our faith in Christ becomes more mature (Deut 8:3; 1 Pet 1:7). Response: we must realise that the genuineness of our faith will result in “praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1Pet 1:7). (c) God uses suffering not only to strengthen our faith, but also to help us to grow in Christian character and righteousness.
According to both Paul and James, God wants us to learn patience through suffering (Rom 5:3-5; Jas 1:3). In suffering, we learn to depend less on ourselves and more on God and His grace (see Rom 5:3; 2Cor 12:9). Response: we must be attuned to what God may want us to learn from our suffering. (d) God may also send us pain and affliction, so that we might be better able to comfort and encourage other sufferers (2Cor 1:4). Thus, the effectiveness of our ministry deepens and increases (2Cor 4:7-12; 4:11-12). Response: we must use our experience of pain to encourage and strengthen other believers.
(7) Finally, God can and does use the suffering of the righteous to further the cause of His kingdom and His plan of redemption. For example, all the injustices that Joseph experienced at the hands of his brothers and the Egyptians were part of God’s plan “to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance” (Gen 45:7). The prime example of this principle is the suffering of Christ,” the Holy One and the Just” (Acts 3:14), who experienced persecution, agony and death, so that God’s plan of salvation might be fully realised. This does not excuse the wickedness of those who crucified Him (Acts 2:23), but it does indicate how God can use the suffering of the righteous at the hands of sinful people for His own purposes and to His own glory.
God’s Relationship to the Suffering of Believers. (1) The first thing to remember is this: God is involved in our sufferings. Even though Satan is the god of this world, he is able to afflict our lives only by God’s permissive will (Job 1-2). God has promised in His Word that He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear (1Cor 10:13).
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