Author’s note: After almost taking a year off of writing because of trials and transition from military to retirement, and after a year I wrote An Open Letter to Afflicted Saints, I thought I would share another shade of truth that I pray will help those who are currently enduring a season of suffering. Originally titled, “A Quick Word to Sufferers,” I thought it would be more appropriate for our eyes to see the finish line, and not lines on the track as we run this race.
This article was written with a “straight to the point” style so as to get to the main encouragement without beating around the bush. I pray the love of the Holy Spirit will pour more assurance on your hearts as you read this, dear sufferer. May God embolden you to run to the throne of grace from where your help comes. And if you need anything, I am available to chat.
Job suffered although he was a righteous man. That’s right. He was innocent (Job 2:3).
In other words, the premise is that he did nothing to deserve his share of suffering. Yet so much was revealed to him in the midst of suffering that he would not – no! could not – have fathomed otherwise.
This teaches us a crucial truth that is very hard to swallow – suffering isn’t always about God purifying or disciplining you because of your sin. Another premise of the book of Job is that suffering isn’t always retributive, but redemptive and revelatory. Meaning that even though we know God is just, and that suffering may be something we may passively experience as a product of the fall, or as a consequence of our own sin, Job’s example forces us to deal with the biblical reality that we may suffer for even greater, better, and more glorious reason(s) than sanctification from sin.
And though none of us are sinless, and though we will always have moral flaws that need to be purified from our soul, there are times an inexplicable trial will collide into us, catapulting us into a spiritual ditch. This inevitably causes us to reach out desperately toward no where else but heaven, and ultimately will have nothing to do with what we did/didn’t do on earth.
It is here, though, that we experience God more faithfully. We feel our emotions more passionately. We confront our intentions more truthfully. And greatest mystery is, we draw closer to God more intimately though He feels galaxies away.
It is these times that we are on our spiritual honeymoon with Christ, though it may feel like a bitter abandonment. And it is in the these times we are reminded concerning the glorious fellowship we have with Christ called, “the fellowship of His sufferings.” (Philippians 3:10)
And the only comfort, the only explanation, the only meaningful hope we have, dear believer, is that God’s glory (and yours) is being worked out before your very eyes (though hard to believe when you’re in the heat of it all). The Master Chef is revealing His divine recipe. The Chief Artichect is rolling out His heavenly blueprint. The Grand Director is unfolding in you His glorious storyline.
Moreover, dear sufferer, God’s eternal compassion and mercy is being demonstrated in your soul (James 5:10-11). It is hard to believe when the passion and pain are so exquisite at times, but the eternal weight of glory that God has for you is ever increasing before you as the day of glory draws near (Rom. 8:8; 1 Cor. 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:10). Preparing you, humbling you, and conforming you into His perfect image (2 Cor. 3:18); elevating you to a greater love and revelation of the person of Christ that not all are called to experience to the same degree in this life.
So whatever it is Saint – suffering, anguish, grief, loss, sadness, depression, physical pain, emotional trauma, lifelong or terminal sickness – may the LORD reveal to you the magnificent mystery and paradoxical power of suffering for His glory and yours. And may He comfort you with glimers of how His merciful workmanship works in you, for your good.
– Until we go home