Being Confident of This

Grace for the work-in-progress woman

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

on September 26, 2013

The Light at the end of the tunnel

If you follow this blog, you know that the last month or so has been very trying for our family (read part of the story here). Now that I’ve rested at His feet for a while and regained strength, I feel like I really can “count it all joy” in spite of present circumstances.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about suffering and why the Lord allows certain suffering to come into our lives.  He’s omnipotent God, after all, and could supernaturally prevent such trials if He chose to do so.  Obviously, this suffering is part of what makes us human, but it wasn’t His original plan!  Adam and Eve lived in a perfect atmosphere – no sin, no death, no sickness, no hardship of any kind.  That’s the sort of existence our Father God intended for us to experience!  Even their marriage relationship was perfect.  Can you imagine working alongside your spouse in perfect harmony?  It sounds like heaven, doesn’t it?! 🙂  So, what happened?  Why is our world so full of evil, pain, suffering, and trials?  Why does life have to be so difficult sometimes?

Suffering because of Sin

In the Bible, God’s message to us, we find that several reasons exist for suffering.  The first suffering took place when man first sinned.  As a result guilt and death entered the world; an animal was sacrificed to cover their nakedness.  Before Adam and Eve ate of the fruit, they never experienced guilt, never experienced death. It must have been horrifying to realize that because of their choices, an innocent animal must be slaughtered.  And even more horrifying to realize they must leave paradise and could no longer walk alongside the Lord God.

So by this token, sin leads to suffering, and sometimes our present-day suffering is directly related to the natural consequences we experience as a result of our choices to follow our own ways and ideas rather than God’s.  We choose not to stay inside the fence of His protection and leave ourselves open for calamity.

But there is still good news!  We serve a God of grace.  Even though Adam and Eve brought sin and suffering to the world, God did not leave them to suffer alone.  Instead, He promised a Deliverer, the Messiah, who would one day restore man to a right relationship with Him.

Consider the prodigal son in Luke 15:10-32.  Even though he sinned by leaving his father’s home to live a worldly life that lead to his own ruin, his father welcomed him home with rejoicing, not grudging acceptance, but rejoicing!

It’s the same for us, Chosen Children –no,  even more so!  For if an earthly father could forgive an ungrateful son and welcome him home with full acceptance and even rejoicing, how much more can our perfect, loving Heavenly Father welcome us back when we make wrong choices?  So, even if we suffer for a while because of sin in our lives, God promises redemption and restoration.  Although  we may feel too ashamed to ask for His help, He willingly offers it!

James 4

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Suffering at the hand of Satan, For the Lord’s Glory

We also read in 1 Peter 5:8-9  that suffering and trials can be brought upon us simply because we follow the Lord.  Satan is God’s enemy and does not desire that we should exist in a harmonious relationship with God.  I Peter says he is prowling like a lion, seeking to devour. Even the very world we live in is also our enemy because of our beliefs according to this passage in John.

John 15:19

“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”

In our home, we have never experienced Satan’s obvious persecution to the extent that we have the past year.  However, his attacks make sense.  My husband is a full-time pastor and we moved a year ago in order to live in the community that God has us ministering to.  That move was a huge leap of faith for us. Satan desires to limit our reach in this community, of that I am sure.

Thus, sometimes our suffering is a result of the Enemy’s attacks.

Never was there a clearer picture of this type of suffering than the life of Job, a man who lived uprightly.  His suffering was two-fold.  Satan asked for permission to test his faith and the Lord granted it.  Why?  So that through his endurance, Job might bring glory to the Lord!

But the story doesn’t end there, sisters.  Because the Lord required great things from Job, including losing his family and all of his possessions and even his very health, He also blessed Job abundantly by restoring him and even adding to all that he had before.  And through it all, the Lord was glorified!

Consider also the blind man in John 9:1-3.

 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.

His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents,that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

When asked why this man suffered with blindness, Jesus declared that the blindness was not due to sin, but was meant to bring glory to the Father.  Then, He restored the blind man’s eyesight miraculously!

What suffering have you endured that the Lord might want to use for His glory?  We sometimes like to hide away those painful things, but what if our restoration can only be found in surrendering those things to the Lord to do with as He pleases?  The longer we hold onto them and attempt to control them, the longer that healing process takes.

Suffering for Refined Faith

Isaiah 48:10

 “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.

In the Bible, we read that trials will refine our faith, like gold is refined by fire.  Such suffering is not a punishment from the Lord, although it may certainly feel like it at times.  Rather, these trials are intended to grow our faith, to help us better understand who God is and who we are through Him.

It’s for this reason alone that James can admonish us to “count it all joy” when we suffer.

James 1:2-4
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,

knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

We can count it joy, not because the suffering is painless, not because we don’t want to wish it away,  but because we believe that God is faithful to use it for our benefit.

1 Peter 1:6-7

 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials,

 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire,

may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

Sisters, our perspective is skewed.  We see and live in the here-and-now.  Any present suffering feels bad, unbearable even. But God’s view is all-encompassing because He is all-knowing and eternal.  He can see how something that looks bad can actually result in good for us.  He can also see how the lives we live today will not only affect those around us and perhaps even our children or grandchildren, but also how our lives will affect generations upon generations to come. Who knows how our suffering might be used for His glory?!  Do you think people like Job or Corrie Ten Boom every imagined the reach that their suffering would have? I doubt it.

Even if the only “good” that comes out of our family’s present circumstances is that we draw into a closer walk with Him, that alone is cause for rejoicing, is it not?  But it truly doesn’t stop there, friends; it doesn’t.  Because I have seen already how the Lord continues to use this season of trial not only to lift us up, but by our witness of His goodness, to lift up others who are suffering up as well.

verse for comfort

2 Corinthians 1:3-5

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,

who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction

with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.

(emphasis mine)

This, this right here is the light at the end of the tunnel, sisters.  Not the deliverance, although we’ll be grateful for that when it comes.  It’s the purpose, to know that we do not suffer in vain.   To know that we are not being punished by an angry God, but pruned  and pursued by a loving God.  To find rest in Him when we feel we can no longer go on. To soar on the wings of eagles when He lifts us up!  To find joy even in the midst of pain! To watch Him keep His promises time and time again!

And, oh, the beauty of it all, ladies.  It’s so beautiful. When He takes my insignificant pain and suffering and uses it to comfort a sister in need.  I’m just in awe .

This is the God we serve – Who can take the ugly and make it beautiful,

Who can turn weeping into rejoicing, pain into promise,

Who lifts up the humble,

Who chooses the weak,

Who redeems the sinner and exalts the unworthy!

He is the Lord and is worthy to be praised!

verse on suffering

Take heart, my sisters in Christ.

Whatever trial you are going through,

there is purpose in the pain.

Jen 🙂

 For resources on this topic, visit here:

http://rachelwojo.com/resources-understanding-pain-suffering/

You may also find me linking up at any of these lovely blogs.

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15 responses to “The Light at the End of the Tunnel

  1. Jen, there is so much hope to be found here. Thanks so much for your inspiration and encouragement to others.
    Thanks so much for sharing at Essential Fridays.
    Blessings
    Mel from Essential Thing Devotions

  2. Rebekah says:

    What a beautiful post – you’re right; there’s absolutely a purpose in all that we go through. God redeems the time, heals the hurts, and carries us through. God is faithful!

  3. You are right — our perspective is skewed. It is impossible for us to see as God sees unless He illuminates it for us. And this is what I’ve learned to do — simply ask. Even if I don’t get the answer I want or the reasons I want, I do get to catch glimpses of His purpose for me.

    • So, true, Jennifer. We can ask Him to help us “see.” Sometimes that doesn’t change circomstances much, but I know for me a little understanding goes a long way! Thanks for stopping by.
      Jen 🙂

  4. It did make me laugh that ya’ll not-so-affectionately renamed the Falls “Buttkill Falls” – ha! Seriously sorry you went through all that though. Not fun. Love the Biblical reminder of why suffering but how God uses it.

    • Yes, the whole family had a great time making jokes at my expense. 🙂 It was one of those – I might as well laugh or I’ll cry – moments. It’s been a frustrating injury to recover from, but the Lord sure is using it for good as He teaches me to draw near to Him. Some days I can really appreciate that, and other days, not so much. Haha.
      Jen 🙂

  5. christywillard says:

    Such great encouragement! So important to have a good perspective on suffering, otherwise it can feel so overwhelming.

    Christy @ A Heartening Life
    http://www.ahearteninglife.com

  6. melindatodd says:

    Great perspective. I wrote about an area satan uses and has used to attack me today. Once we put our stories out there, satan gets busy trying to discourage. Writing can be a discouraging and lonely world. Thank you for sharing your encouragement with us today.

    • You are so right, Melinda! 🙂 Because now that I think about it, the very next day after I posted this the Enemy’s fiery darts started flying! Thanks for reminding me that we battle not against flesh and blood, and for stopping by to encourage me. Bless you!
      Jen 🙂

    • Thanks, Melinda, for stopping by to encourage me with your words. You are so right about Satan! It seems as soon as I blog about something and feel like I’m getting a handle on it, then he attacks in full force! At first, I was surprised by this, but now I know a little better to expect it. So, it’s not always so overwhelming. I hope you have an encouraging week!
      Jen 🙂

  7. Thank you Jen for sharing the hope found only in the Lord when life is bringing us down.

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