Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
Read Job 17:1–16
Can anything good come from our pain?
As Job has shown us, sometimes the only way God can bless us is by breaking us. It’s not easy, and it’s not fun. We feel alone, wrestling and questioning, feeling empty and full of doubts—not aware that we might, in fact, be very close to an amazing encounter with God.
At times, that’s how God gets our attention. When everything’s going great, we usually don’t hear Him very well. Yet when it feels as if we’re wandering through a spiritual desert—when we struggle—He has our undivided attention. C. S. Lewis put it this way: “God whispers in our pleasure, but He shouts in our pain.”
Could you be on the verge of some incredible new stage of spiritual growth in your life? Or are you just sick of suffering? Maybe you’re mad at God because those who don’t claim Christianity seem to be having more fun than you. It’s definitely hard to accept and most certainly unpleasant to think about. But, like it or not, even good Christians suffer from time to time.
Why? “When the light comes the darkness must depart,” explained Charles H. Spurgeon. “Where truth is, the lie must flee. If the lie remains, there will be a severe conflict, because truth cannot and will not lower its standard. If you follow Christ, all the hounds of the world will yelp at your heels.”
Living on the side of truth means struggle: saying no when everyone else is saying yes, or yes when they’re saying no; holding back anger when you want to lash out; being honest when you know a little bit of dishonesty could make life easier. When it feels as if the Christian life involves more pain and problems than blessing and bliss, consider this: It’s better to endure temporary struggle, which leads to eternal joy, than momentary comfort, which results in everlasting torment
· Suffering never gets as nasty as hell (Luke 16:24). What are you suffering? A relationship gone south because you’ve gone religious? A boss who verbally abuses “Bible thumpers”? How about a case of cancer that won’t go away? Whether your pain is short term or long, it will end. Even if your suffering lasts all your earthly life, heaven’s welcome mat will read No Tears.
· Suffering brings Jesus close (Philippians 3:10). In suffering for Him, you’ll appreciate His great sufferings for you. And in your every struggle, He suffers with you. What’s more, He gives you the strength to endure: “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:11–14).
· PRAY: “Lord, help me to grow closer to You. Sometimes I feel so wearied by my struggles. Give me the strength to endure.” Ask Jesus to give you an eternal focus.
Notes for Growth
A Key Point I Learned Today:
How I Want to Grow:
My Prayer List:
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