A mother was asking God where He was when her son died. She came to see that God’s Son died too. God suffers too – He understands and He cares
Here are a few reasons for suffering, but the full story will be revealed in heaven:
Sin: Something is radically wrong with God’s good creation. There is a destructive, negative, chaotic, demonic perversion of God’s world. This perversion is called sin. Sin is primarily rebellion against God and when this happens, man will suffer the consequences. Galations 6:7 – “Be not deceived God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap”. All suffering is NOT due to sin, but sin can bring suffering.
Misuse of freedom: Failure to choose the right and the best. Example: Parents may give their child a car to drive to school…..they may speed and are killed in a car wreck. We are free to do what we ought (keep the law)…not as we want.
Lack of faith and trust: This can possibly lead to serious health problems.
Inherited human weakness: This may be physical or mental.
Natural calamities: (Matthew 5:45) “He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust”. We live in a world of natural laws. For example, when cold air rushes in to hot air, tornadoes are likely to happen. We do live in an ordered world and can know what is likely to happen and can take precautions. God can and does at times, enter in to miraculously save from disaster, but He saves us physically for spiritual reasons. Job 2:10 and other scriptures indicate that SUFFERING CAN HELP US APPRECIATE THE BLESSINGS AND THE GOOD TIMES OF LIFE MORE. It helps us discover the real values of life.
We learn through suffering the things which really count: God, family, friends, church. One person said, “I have come to know God in such a way that it has made money seem very small to me.” Job 23:10: We may not understand the why of suffering but if we trust the Who of life, we will in time see a purpose. Romans 8:28 says to take the long look: It is to test or teach us. To improve our faith. Making the most of blindness and deaf muteness, Helen Keller showed others who were limited in one way or another, that they could rise above their weakness. I read about a cerebral palsied librarian who checked out books, with her toes. God suffers too – He understands and He cares! A mother who was asking God where He was when her son died, came to see that God’s Son died too.
When our youngest son Kyle died suddenly three months ago, my wife La Moyne said that a night-light that belonged to her mother has helped to remind her of that fact each night. It is a white cross with the Scripture: “God so loved that He gave His ONLY Son”. Christ suffered and it turned out for the redemption of man.
Some suffering may be chastening: “Whom the Lord loves, He chastens”. (Hebrews 12:6,10…also see Revelation 3:19) Remember, chastening may NOT be punishment! Chastening is to ‘refine’ and make better….punishment is to condemn and restrain. Moreover, sickness is not necessarily a result of our wrong-doing. Concerning the blind man, it was our Lord Himself Who said, “Neither hath this man sinned, not his parents, but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” (John 9: 3)
The Psalmist learned this and said, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted: that I might learn thy statues (Psalm 119:71) We learn more during times of sickness, sorrow and suffering than at any other time. I firmly believe that there will be more people in heaven…because of a positive witness in bad times that during good times! “I walked a mile with pleasure, She chattered all the way. But left me none the wiser, For all she had to say. I walked a mile with sorrow And ne’er a word said she. But oh the things I learned from her, When sorrow walked with me” (Robert Browning Hamilton)
THEREFORE ALL SUFFERING AND TRIALS AND TESTINGS CAN LEAD TO SPIRITUAL GROWTH (James 1:2-12)
When life tumbles in, you may discover the power of prayer! James says to ‘count it all joy’:
~because you may gain an unshakable faith in God.
~because you may discover the real values of life.
~because God’s purpose for your life may be perfected.
~That you may have the endurance to press on to a complete life of holiness.
~That you may be conformed to the image of Christ.
~You may learn discipline (Heb. 5: 8,9 and 12:11)
~You may fellowship more with God.
~You may meditate more.
~You may gain a strength that is not your own.
~You may gain glory in abandonment, “let go” in order to “let God”.
Two children were walking up a bumpy path when one complained of the bumps. The other child said, ‘No, they help us climb.” The bumps of life can throw us into God’s hand, Who in turn will help us to climb. Suffering builds you up and through your positive witness, will help build others up.
In the book “The Whirlwinds of Life”, Eddie Lieberman says: “If the earth’s pressure can turn carbon into diamonds…if an oyster can turn pain into a pearl…if Fanny Crosby can turn blindness into a song….if Dale Evans can turn her suffering into a service….if God Himself can turn the tragedy of His Son’s death into a triumph…then by God’s grace and power, we can take the worst that can happen to us and turn it into the best that can happen to us.”
There is a stewardship of sorrow whereby we experience God’s comfort and then share with others. When Dr. R.G. Lee was asked if he had his ministry as a pastor to live over again, what would he change, he replied, “I would be more of a comforter!” Suffering and sorrows come to every person at some point in life. What sorrow does to you depends upon your attitude toward it. Some will grow bitter and resentful, others will grow strong. Some will turn to God…while others may turn away from God. Sorrow can bring either defeat or victory. It depends upon you and your faith in God Who makes no mistakes.
The unbelieving world will be influenced for good or bad, positively or negatively, depending on the way you react. In John 11:45: “Then many of the Jews who came to Mary and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on Him.”
We felt led to share with you that we ourselves went through some difficult health ‘challenges’ – so we write this from our hearts to your’s. We pray that some of these thoughts will help you in your own journey. We pray that we may be a witness for Him as we go through this valley. Please put the emphasis on the word ‘through’ this valley!
By Travis E. Wiginton
Travis pastored over 55 years – in Korea and in Hawaii, US. In 1951, at the first church he attended, Travis first saw the love of his life, LaMoyne, singing in the choir (although they grew up just 30 mins from each other) From the first day together, to their wedding, to the end of their days, they were inseparable. As a teen, LaMoyne too had felt God directing her to serve as a missionary, so the couple went to Korea in 1960; Travis studied Korean 7 hours daily. He enjoyed all sports. He passed away on June 4, 2019, leaving a legacy of love and friendship.