“In the day of prosperity be happy, but in the day of adversity consider – God has made the one as well as the other… ” (Eccl. 7:14)
If we are going to endure suffering, however, we must also understand that there are other purposes and reasons for our trials as they are related to the chief purpose. Below are just a few of those reasons.
1. We suffer because we live in a fallen world and it often falls on us… Satan is alive and well on planet earth. (1 Peter 5:8)
2. We suffer because of our own foolishness. We reap what we sow (Gal. 6:7-9).
3. We sometimes suffer because it is God’s discipline. “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son He receives” (Heb. 12:6).
4. We suffer persecution because of our faith – when we take a stand on biblical issues, i.e., suffering for righteousness sake (2 Tim. 3:12).
5. We suffer to develop our capacity and sympathy in comforting others (2 Cor. 1:3-5).
6. We suffer to keep down pride (2 Cor. 12:7).
7. We suffer because it is a training tool. (Heb. 12:5f; 1 Peter 1:6; James 1:2-4). It is designed as:
* A discipline for sin to bring us back into fellowship (Ps. 32:3-5; 119:67)
* A pruning tool (Ps. 16:7; 119:67, 71)
* A tool for growth which is designed to help us rely on the Lord and His Word (Ps. 119:71, 92; 1 Peter 1:6; James 1:2-4; Ps. 4:1) and to learn to wait on the Lord only (Ps. 62:1-8)
Jerry Bridges in Is God really in Control? probably says it the most clearly, “God in His love always wills what is best for us. In His wisdom He always knows what is best, and in His sovereignty He has the power to bring it about.”
8. As a means to bring about continued dependence on the grace and power of God. To cause us to walk by God’s ability, power, and provision rather than our own (2 Cor. 11:24-32; 12: 7-10; Eph. 6:10; Ex. 17:8). It causes us to turn from our resources to His resources.
9. We suffer to manifest the evil nature of evil men and the righteousness of the justice of God when it falls into judgment (1 Thess. 2:14-16). Suffering at the hands of people (persecution, violent treatments) is used of God to “fill up the measure of their sins.” It shows their evil character and the justice of God’s judgment when it falls.
10. We suffer to broaden our ministries (Phil. 1:12-14 with 4:5-9). It opens doors we could never imagine. “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:6-7)
Let me encourage you on your journey with these words from Margaret Clarkson: “God is the Lord of human history and of the personal history of every member of His redeemed family.”
Your trials and suffering are in His sovereign hands – in that you can rejoice. (James 1:2; Phil. 4:4)