Problems, problems, problems… we all have them. But why? Shouldn’t GOD protect HIS children? Have you ever wondered why GOD took the Jews out into the wilderness and let them go hungry and thirsty? Weren’t they HIS chosen people? It seems so wrong. Why did HE have them suffer?
Deuteronomy 8:3 HE humbled you by letting you go hungry then feeding you with manna. HE did it to help you realize food isn’t everything. Real life comes by obeying every word of GOD… For 40 years you walked around the wilderness but your clothes didn’t grow old and your feet didn’t get blistered or swollen so that you would realize that as a man punishes his son, so the LORD punishes you to help you… HE fed you with manna (something unknown to you) so that you would become humble and so that your trust in HIM would grow and HE could do you good. HE did it so that you would never feel that it was your own power and might that accomplished things… always remember that it is the LORD your GOD who gives you power…(Deuteronomy 8:3-5,16-18).
What an answer! What seems so wrong, actually was divine strategy to enable them to see things clearly and to help them. Wow!
It is the same for us. GOD says: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so you may be mature, complete, not lacking anything (James 1:2-4).
When it says to consider it pure joy, it is not saying to feel anything. The Greek word used for consider here means to think, to count, to esteem, to regard, or credit as a fact. When in Hebrews 12:2 it says that our LORD JESUS suffering the pain and despised the shame while on the cross dying for us-but that through setting before HIMSELF (directing HIS thoughts to) the joy of what HIS work on the cross was accomplishing HE endured. That is what these verses in James is talking about.
A personal illustration…One way GOD has and keeps humbling me as HE did the Jews in the wilderness and JESUS on the cross, is my hearing, or rather my inability to discern what is being said. At summer camp before my sophomore year in high school, during a moment of worship, I asked GOD to do whatever was necessary to make me into the person HE wanted me to be. I wanted to be used by HIM. Within months, I went to live with my mother and doctors discovered I was hearing impaired to the extent that I was lip reading. Later they discovered, I had a disease that caused increasing hearing loss and my whole world was not only changing, but had begun to spin due to fluid behind my ears.
When the One who made ears took my hearing away, and I really believe HE did, HE taught many things- beginning with the fact that I needed HIM all the time. It is scary, for one who cannot hear, to be on a bus and not know whether this stop is where to get off or not; or in an international airport of a foreign country, not knowing what the intercom is saying. It is embarrassing when people don’t understand why you can’t do certain things or why you avoid crowds as much as possible because the background noise is confusing. It is scary to step out when GOD says, “Go!” and frustrating (on both sides) to have someone talking with you and you can’t understand what is being said. Yet, it was those kinds of things that taught me I could trust GOD to lead the way. It showed, the know it all me, that I am not sufficient as of myself to think anything as by myself but that my sufficiency comes from GOD alone (2 Corinthians 3:5). Yes, HE taught me how to trust HIM, in both little things and big things. Crazy as it sounds, HE enables me to hear at times when HE has something specific for me to do- that demands hearing. Losing my hearing has taught me to trust in the LORD with all my heart and to not lean on my own understanding; not to look to people, but to acknowledge GOD in everything and HE really does direct my path even when I do not understand (Proverbs 3:5-7). It taught me to hear GOD’s voice; to see GOD’s hand at work; and to rejoice in what HE is doing behind the scenes while I am in the midst of a hurricane. It has taught me how to walk in HIS peace when all I can see around me is confusion and problems. Yet, through it all, my handicap has some unique advantages. It allows me to escape to a place of quiet rest, to shut out the clamor of the world and be alone with GOD. I just need to close my eyes and turning off my hearing aids.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says that as we suffer problems that GOD will comfort us and that it prepares us to comfort others with the same comfort GOD has given us. Therefore, suffering prepares us to be used of GOD to help others.
2 Corinthians 4:15-18 says that everything is for our benefit. That our momentary problems are achieving eternal things for us that far outweigh the pain of today. It encourages us not focus on the trouble, but to focus on the reality that GOD is achieving awesome things for us through it.
I Peter I:6-7 says our suffering is a process that refines us as gold. As you know when the fire gets hot, impurities separate from the gold and float to the top where they can be removed. So our problems brings our impurities to the top, so GOD can remove them and we can shine like gold when JESUS comes.
I Peter 5:8-11 tells how GOD lets us suffer for a while so that HE may establish and strengthen us.
Hebrews 12:4-11 says GOD’s discipline of us proves HIS love for us and it will produce in us what we need
Through the pain and the struggles, I have learned to obey GOD, to count it pure joy when I face trials of many kinds, and believe me I face trials after trial. I am not perfect, and sometimes GOD has to remind me that I am focusing on the problem. But HE is gentle and longsuffering and does change my focus. To simple trust in GOD takes away fear. So I urge you to believe that GOD is working in your behalf in every single problem and crisis. It will change your life.
Looking unto JESUS the Author and Finisher of my faith