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Suffering: An Instrument of God

By Pastor Chad

Unfortunately, suffering is a reality with which we all live. Sometimes our suffering is greater than other times, but we have all experienced the pains of heartbreak, failure, sickness, and human frailty. If you are a Christian, these are occasions that drive you to your knees; seeking God’s mercy and grace. 

In my message on Sunday, I focused on Jesus’ statement in John 11:4, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God.” I find it very interesting that Scripture never gives us an exhaustive reason for the existence of pain and suffering. Instead, we learn something different. We learn how God uses suffering for His glory and our good. I think this answer is not only more helpful for our spiritual lives, but I think it is also more psychologically satisfying. Now we know that our suffering and pain isn’t meaningless or pointless. Jesus is going to do something in and through it. He uses suffering as an occasion to display His glory. He uses suffering as a means to display His handiwork. I think this makes suffering easier to bear. Why? Because we know there is a purpose to it; something good will come from it. That doesn’t mean our suffering will always get better–it may not–but we can trust that despite our suffering God will use it for a bigger purpose. 

Suffering is the occasion that God uses to reveal Himself in ways that He would not have otherwise. You see, to us, suffering and pain represent life situations that are out of our control. We can’t do anything about it. But God does not have human limitations. For the Christian, we understand that suffering and pain are totally underneath the providential control of God, and that He uses them as instruments for our edification. Suffering is the chisel and hammer God uses to mold us into the image of His Son. That which causes harm ends up being used for good. Only God can use pain and suffering in that way. 

This is why God doesn’t generally remove the “scars” in our lives. God uses those scars as mediums to do some of His finest work. He uses pain and suffering in this world as a canvas to do some of His greatest work. So it is not the scars that define our lives; and we don’t find our identity in the scars. Our identity, rather, is found in the One who redeems us and redeems our suffering for His glory. Augustine said it best in his Confessions: ““In my deepest wound I saw your glory, and it dazzled me.”

If we have a proper understanding of suffering, we may get to the point where we embrace the suffering in our lives. We don’t embrace suffering for suffering's sake. We don’t embrace suffering because we love suffering and pain. We don’t embrace the suffering out of some sick masochistic tendency, rather we embrace the suffering because we know what God can and will do through it and in it.  


To hear the full sermon, click here.


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