-- SUFFERING IS RIGHT --
"God brings men into deep waters not to drown them, but to cleanse them." - James H. Hughey
One of the things that I have continued to think about this first year of being in Africa is that "suffering is right". It is right to walk through suffering for the Kingdom of God in our lives and the advancement of His mission. It's been a hard thought for me because I, as most natural men, desire to avoid suffering at all cost. I have yet to meet a person that actually enjoys suffering in any sense. Suffering does things in our minds and hearts that we hate.
I made a list of a few reasons why I hated suffering and why I believe many others hate suffering.
Suffering: 1. Exposes our Weaknesses
Whenever we are in a season that is causing us to suffer whether that's losing a loved one, or losing money, or losing friends our own inability to control everything in our lives is exposed. I am convinced that one of the tricks that Satan has played on mankind ever since the Garden of Eden is that we have the power to control our own lives like God. That's essentially what Satan told Eve, "Eat the tree and become like God!" Welp... who doesn't want that? Who doesn't want to become like God and control all things in our lives. When we suffer we are faced with the reality that we are indeed finite.
Suffering: 2. Exposes our Idols
Whenever I am suffering what is the first thing that I do? For me, I immediately make a new schedule, find a different workout routine, make "S.M.A.R.T." goals, and control what I can control (hinting back to #1). Its an exposing process whenever my first reaction is to cling to things that I can control and not on The One who has ultimate power. My immediate thought is, "How, as a husband and father, can I protect and provide for my family." Hear me, protection and providing of one's family is needed honorable and holy! My personal danger is idolizing my roles and forgetting the Father's role. In as much as I want to protect and provide for my family He too wants to protect and provide for me. Yet, time and time again my loyalties in times of suffering exposes my idolatry of schedules and controlling the controllable. I run to my idol to fix the problem first before running to my Creator.
Suffering: 3. Exposes our Sins
Whenever I face suffering I recognize my flesh pulling me right away towards vises that I once used. Whenever we become hard pressed through suffering we really see "what we're made of". Whenever you squeeze an orange too much you receive orange juice. Whenever you squeeze a lemon too much you receive lemon juice. Whenever you squeeze a man too much, through suffering, you receive what's really in his heart. Suffering is hard because it shows us just how deep our roots in Christ go, or rather, how shallow they go (read Matt. 13:1-9). For me right now and our season or suffering in Africa is exposing my long lost friend named Pride. Pride and I go WAY back since my dad leaving. Now, he has never exactly went away completely at all but he has diminished greatly. As it is now, in this current season of suffering, he has grown later than ever and my lovely and patient wife has made it evident to me that he is bigger than before lol.
So... with all of this talk about suffering being so bad because it exposes our weaknesses, idols, and sins why is it right? I propose suffering is not only right but it is NECESSARY for all of the reasons that we hate it. Suffering accurately puts into perspective that we are NOT God which is a good and needed journey.
EXPOSING OUR WEAKNESSES: We must realize that we are not God and we cannot control all things, and in that realization, we become free to live in His goodness and sovereignty.
EXPOSING OUR IDOLS: We must become aware of the idols that we place in our hearts so that we can destroy them and have unyielding loyalty to the soveireing Lord. This process is HARD but sanctifying and GOOD!
EXPOSING OUR SINS: Seeing what we're "really made of" is what it's all about for me! Seeing just how much I trust in Him and just how much I believe in His word is a trying and necessary process. I want to be tried and tested and remain firm in convictions.
IT IS MY ASSERTION THAT SUFFERING IS NOT ONLY RIGHT IT IS NECESSARY IN THE LIFE OF THE BELIEVER.
To what degree? That depends on the person, situation, and path of the Lord. But it is necessary nonetheless.