Is God Tangible When I Suffer?
Is God Tangible When I Suffer
God is worth worshipping no matter what the circumstances. Let’s be clear because both words and definitions matter. I am speaking about God of the Holy Bible who came to Earth in the man Jesus Christ (John 1:1-3).
Nevertheless, life isn’t always pleasant, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t supposed to give glory where it’s due. If you hold a true biblical view, glory to God is always due, no matter where you are in life! Job, one of the greatest sufferers in the Bible said it best: “although God slays me, yet will I trust Him.” Do you have this Job style attitude in your suffering or is it all about complaining?
I would never suggest: “think positive even when things are going wrong.” Positive thinking about horrible circumstances may only lead to more discouragement. Bet you haven’t heard that before, huh? Let me explain.
God sends us into trials and tribulations for a purpose. That purpose is typically threefold: build our faith, bring us closer to Him, and to see the value of spiritual struggle. I hear so many professed Preachers telling people: “things will get better soon.” Lying to suffering people is bad enough but to do so in the Name of God is worse!
If you believe things will eventually get better, tell that to parents who have lost children to cancer despite world class medical treatment. Try that line on either para or quadra-paralyzed suffers. I have seen real Saints of God get sick, think positive, and die anyway. You may say – “thinking positive keeps things in perspective.” No, not really. “Truth” keeps things in perspective.
Yes, I did use Job as an example of suffering earlier and yes, Job came out. However, everyone is not Job! It should also be remembered that what we consider positive, God may consider foolish. There will be times when we experience suffering, but that shouldn’t prevent us from praising God. When we look for glory in difficult situations, it can help lift our spirits and keep us going.
That is the God-way to think: looking for God’s glory in impossible situations. God’s glory may require you to never get well or, at minimum, struggle with health issues for the foreseeable future. When you find yourself going through a difficult time, this article will show you ways to find God's glory. Keep reading to learn more about this topic and how it can help you in your time of need
God is Revealed When Suffering is Understood
When we suffer, we may feel like it’s unfair. In such a short time, we’re given such an opportunity to have influence in this world. Yet we are plagued by pain and sickness. In these moments, it can feel like God is abandoning us.
You may be tempted to search for purpose within the reasons for suffering, but this is a mistake. We cannot always determine the purpose of a person’s actions, but we can understand the purpose of suffering.
The Bible outlines the purpose for all suffering in three (3) movements. First, suffering is a result of being separated from God. No need to remind any Bible student how that occurred, right?
Second, suffering, according to scripture, more closely “conforms us to the image of Jesus Christ.” Anyone reading Isaiah chapter 53, and then Matthew 26-27 understands we must suffer like Jesus.
Further, the Bible teaches that for anyone to rule with Jesus Christ, suffering is a pre-requisite. This purpose is to glorify God, who IS Jesus Christ. Please read the Gospel of John 1 for confirmation.
God has a plan for every person that is different than our plans for them. If we are to follow it, we will experience pain and suffering. Even if we do not follow, we still experience both. So why not suffering for righteousness rather than unrighteousness? The Bible teaches: “it is better to suffer for being just, honest, and upstanding than to suffer for doing wrong in this world.”
The purpose of your suffering is to mold you, shape you, and conform you to the image of God. After all, if I believe He came in the flesh, and I, the servant, cannot be greater than the master, well, you get it.
Seeing God Means Understanding Suffering
Many people have lost the conviction that there is a God because there is so much suffering in the world. But amongst suffering, there are always miracles! We often don’t notice this because we are blinded by the sadness, brokenness, and confusion suffering brings. What we must not so, is allow this to blind us and then rob us of our conviction to follow Jesus Christ.
But, even if you’ve lost that conviction, there is still a God, and He’s alive and well. God answers prayers and we must remember that this is a miracle as well! Miracles are defined as: “unexplainable occurrences with no scientific explanation.” You ask God to answer a prayer, He does, and if that is not a miracle, I do not know what is. Think about it like this: no one has every seen God, you sure haven’t, yet prayers are answered anyway.
How do you explain that in a scientific or rational manner? Seeing God often means stepping outside of the ordinary drudgery of everyday life, into a space of Spiritual truth. The world says: “you have your own truth and I have mine.” There are no separate versions of the truth. There is simply “truth.” Regardless of what we have been told, moral relativism is a lie from the pit of hell.
Moral relativism teaches morals are relative to the individual or society’s values. Put more simply – there are no moral absolutes. The issue becomes when believers in this philosophy are asked simple questions, they admit there are moral absolutes, regardless of personal beliefs.
Who God is dependent upon what He says is right and wrong. We, followers of Jesus Christ, calls these wrongs ‘sin.’ It is sin, and this alone, which cases all the suffering in our world. It began in the Garden of Eden as we are all aware of. What is more interesting, is these same people admit there are things which happen, that have no explanation. This is their way of avoiding the term ‘miracles.’ In everything, see Jesus, His miracles, and understand they happen each day.
Does Following God Lesson Suffering?
First, let’s discuss what it means to be “Godly”, and then we will address the suffering in relation to Godliness. To be a godly person, you’ll want to examine your views on God. How do your persona values align with His Word? Does your behavior demonstrate His expectations?
It is also critical to examine your emotional reaction when reading God’s Word in the Holy Bible. If this is true, then to better understand Him, there are hard questions to both ask and answer. The issue of suffering combines with how you view and define Godliness.
There are too many people questioning the very existence of God based on their personal evil of suffering. The flaw in the argument: “If God is so loving, why does He allow so much suffering” are numerous. Let’s address, in my view, the most obvious error in this paradigm.
“Allowing” is the key component to the greatest gift God could give humans: free will. To experience consciousness above that of an animal or robot, personal choice must be the key component. Those who question God’s existence fail to understand that it is that same gifted “free will” which allows asking such a question to begin with. In effect, they question the “gift giver” and enjoy the experience provided by the “gift.” This is a very high level of hypocrisy in my view. This bad theological doctrine has even penetrated the church through: "Jesus told us to turn the other cheek." Yes, but He did not say always because Jesus personally confronted people when they abused Him!
If, then, I enjoy the gift of free will, it means I have a choice to either do right or do wrong. It is illogical to blame “how” the gift is misused on He who provided the gift. One of the most controversial issues in the United States is the Second Amendments guarantee of the right to “keep and bear arms.” These weapons are used for very great evil such as mass shootings and murder in general.
However, those same weapons are used to capture and/or keep neighborhoods safe by law enforcement. The criminal uses guns for evil and police officers for good. This is important because there are many people in this nation who blame gun violence on weapons manufacturers. They ignorantly believe to shutter gun production would keep communities safe. Guns are not the issue, evil hearts are yet people blame how evil is exercised rather than how it is vanquished. This is hypocrisy at its highest level.
Following God will not lessen suffering and may instead heighten it! There is a price to pay for followship of the Lord God. Those same evil people will persecute you which causes suffering. However, Jesus said: “blessed are you when people shall persecute you because of Me.”
Character Reveals Your Strength
Your character develop during your walk with God is revealed when you suffer most. The desire to be a godly person in the midst of struggle may seem like an insurmountable task. Fortunately, it can be done, yet not in your own strength, and is surprisingly simple. As with any journey, it will have its ups and downs however, God will be with you.
Here are some steps you can take to develop the godly character. First, commit to seeing God in a new way and refuse to be blinded by spiritual struggle. This may seem silly, but it’s an important place to start. Many stop following the Lord because He does not resolve issues in ways they believe important. They’ve lost sight of who He is because they have mismanaged their own expectations of personal relief.
The Bible says: “God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways. As Heaven is higher than the Earth, so is God’s ways higher than ours.” Developing Godly character means remembering why you became a Christian in the first place. Being Godly is not one act or even two, it is a lifestyle you must commit to.
When we have this Holy Ghost lifestyle, our suffering is put into the most amazing perspective through faith. Ever known someone who, when they came around, you sat up a little straighter? What was it about them which caused you to do so?
Their expectations of themselves and others but mostly their own spiritually disciplined lifestyle! This lifestyle is built purely on trust in God. They follow and love Him whether He relieves their suffering or not. This trust is something we must have throughout our entire journey. No matter what is happening, we must trust that God has a plan for us.
Even if we cannot see it right now, we must trust that it will be revealed in the end. Sometimes it helps to reflect on the path that led us to where we are now. Look back at all the experiences you’ve had, both positive and negative. While you cannot go back and change any of them, you can take a moment to look at what you’ve learned. You may be shocked to discover how much God has already revealed to you through these experiences.
Trust that He has a plan for you, and you may be surprised by how much this helps.
Even in Suffering Glorify Jesus
We may see suffering as a test to demonstrate His power or as a punishment to teach us a lesson. God has given us a way to see the glorification of Christ in our lives. We can view our suffering differently by looking at it as an opportunity to glorify Christ. It’s an opportunity that we would probably have missed had we been healthy.
In fact, Jesus himself suffered greatly, and he taught his followers that they would also face difficulties. However, he also promised that he would be with them and would help them through their struggles. He said, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
If you are experiencing suffering as a result of following Jesus, it may be helpful to remember that you are not alone, and that Jesus has promised to be with you and to give you strength. You may also find comfort in knowing that suffering can often lead to growth and deeper faith.
It can be a time to rely on God's grace and to trust in his plan for your life. If you are struggling, it may be helpful to seek support from other believers, such as through prayer or by talking with a pastor or spiritual counselor. But prior to this, you may find praying to the Lord directly will resolve the issue and/or give you peace with it.
Will Suffering Ever End
In the Bible, God allows suffering to occur and sometimes even causes it to happen for a variety of reasons, such as to discipline his people, to test their faith, or to accomplish his purposes in the world. However, God is also a loving and compassionate God who hates suffering and who ultimately will bring an end to it.
According to the Bible, one day God will completely remove suffering from the world when he establishes his kingdom on earth. This will happen when Jesus returns to establish his rule and to judge the living and the dead. At that time, God will make all things new and will restore his creation to its original perfection.
There will be no more death, pain, or suffering. The Bible says, "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away" (Revelation 21:4). Until that time, we can trust that
God is sovereign over all things and that he is using even the difficult circumstances of our lives for his good purposes.
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