Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Perspective on Suffering

We live in a fallen world, under sin and a curse. This explains why things happen the way they do. This is not limited to the sinfulness of human beings but involves nature as well. When God created humans, He put nature in subjection under them (Genesis 1:28-30). But when Adam and Eve fell (Genesis 3:1-6; Romans 5:12-20), they drug all nature down with them (Romans 8:19-20; Genesis 3:16-19). Therefore, not only do human beings behave badly, but nature also can be hostile. Now it is clearly not true that everyone in this life gets just what they deserve. The book of Job is written as an answer to that, as are a number of the remarks of Jesus (Luke 13:1-5; John 9:1-5). But the picture we get from Scripture is not that God pours out evil things on innocent people. Rather, He pours out good things (Matthew 5:45; Acts 14:17; Romans 2:4,5) on people who do not deserve them (Romans 3:23; Isaiah 64:6, Jeremiah 17:9). On this principle He holds back judgment even on those we feel most deserve it because of His grace and mercy. He also sometimes causes His people to go through trouble in order that they may be made better people by it (Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6,7). While all these things are worked for our benefit by God, who is in control of our lives, if we are believers (Romans 8:28-30; Ephesians 1:11; 2:10). But also through this we can have hope (Romans 8:24,25).   

It is important to put sufferings in perspective (Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:17,18; 1 Peter 5:8-10). What we suffer now is minor in the light of eternity, when God will wipe away every tear (Revelation 21:4; Philippians 3:20,21; Psalms 16:11). Therefore, if a person trusts in Christ and Him alone for salvation (Ephesians 2:8,9; Romans 4:4,5; Titus 3:5,6), then they can be assured that God will bring them through the troubles of this life to dwell forever with Him (1 John 5:11-13; John 10:27-30; Philippians 1:6). If you do not currently have faith in Him, God invites you to trust Him (Acts 16:31; Revelation 22:17; John 3:16-18). But for those of us who have, we possess a hope that God will one day remake this fallen world to be as He originally intended it to be before sin entered (Romans 8:21-23; 2 Peter 3:10-13; Revelation 21:5-8). But it is not always easy to live in light of this truth. We have a desire to have things now and not to wait for them. But those who live for the present day will lose it all in the world to come (1 John 2:15-17; James 4:4; Philippians 3:18,19). Therefore, though we will have troubles in this life (John 16:33; 15:18-21; Acts 14:22), let us look beyond that to where our real treasure is (Matthew 6:19-21) so that we might have that abiding hope (1 Corinthians 13:13) and face the trouble in life knowing we will ultimately be victorious (Romans 8:35-37).

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