Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Habakkuk 3:17 – 19 17Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.
Kids all go through the stage of asking “Why?” It’s healthy. It can also be irritating. Especially if the child is like one of my grandkids, who at two-and-a-half-year-old, drove his parents crazy. He has a mind that needs to know, and his response to every statement he hears was, “Why?” I mean EVERY statement. He did not accept “Because” as a sufficient answer. He had to hear a valid explanation.
We ask the same question of God about suffering. The fact that we are told in Philippians 4:4 to “Rejoice in the Lord always,” means that we must rejoice even when we suffer. “But why?” “Why are we suffering?” Why do I need to rejoice in it?”
We dealt yesterday with some of the reasons God gives us in His Word for suffering. Years ago, as I was writing on this subject, my wife called to inform me that we had water coming down the wall of the fireplace in our living room. Instant application opportunity for what I was studying. I had to go home and try to fix my roof in a rainstorm. I can’t remember if I rejoiced or not. But here are the lessons I learned.
Suffering is a test and proves the quality of our faith –
- 1 Peter 1:3 – 9 3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Suffering brings the blessing of intimacy with Christ –
- 1 Peter 4:12 – 16 12Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
Suffering reinforces the truth of our future reward –
- Matthew 5:10 – 12 10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Rejoice! God has a reason for the struggle you are going through, and the destination is worth the trip. In fact, the trip itself can be a blessing if you keep your heart focused on Him.