Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Relevance of Suffering

“So those who suffer according to God’s will should, while doing what is good, entrust themselves to a faithful Creator.” (1 Peter 4:19)

The matter of suffering has always been difficult to comprehend. For Christians it has been particularly troubling, because our perceptions of the love, compassion, and mercy of God produce an emotional disconnect when we find ourselves or other believers going through a time of suffering. We ask, “How can this be?” Then we go to the why question: “Why, Lord?” Then come the taunts: “If God loves you and is supposed to be such a loving God, why would He let you suffer like this?” Going to the why question seems almost instinctive. But should it be?

Peter makes it clear in the verses surrounding the text above that we should not be surprised at the “fiery ordeal” that comes our way. He sees this as almost normative for believers, as a testing and refining of our faith. He says we are sharing in the suffering of the Messiah when we suffer according to God’s will, and that that should be a cause for rejoicing. So, he suggests that instead of complaining we should simply keep on doing the good works God commands, and we should simply trust ourselves to our faithful Creator. In other words, we should trust God’s purposes with a child-like faith. Our residual attitude should be to go straight to faith rather than to the why question, relegating the why question to irrelevance.

Lord, We still don’t understand suffering, but we ask You to help us keep on being faithful to do all You want us to do even in the midst of it. Please. Amen

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