Part 1 of 4
“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.” 1 Peter 4:12
Trials are certainly not strange. In fact, they are normal in our sinful world. No matter how perfect someone’s life looks, we ALL suffer trials. It’s part of the human condition.
But WHY does God allow suffering?
In the wake of Hurricane Dorian, I wonder too. Thankfully, our home and area weren’t hit too hard. But my prayers go out to those in the Bahamas. If God is good, why must people suffer?
For me, 2019 has been a tumultuous year with trials, trouble, and tribulation.
The year began with a financial trial that threatened our business and necessitated career-altering decisions. Then, a precious relationship suffered a major misunderstanding and broke down. My husband closed the business to embark on a management position with a steep learning curve and long hours.
Soon, we realized my mom is in the beginning stages of dementia and learned that my sister’s cancer is back. My brother-in-law suffered a serious heart condition. And to top it off, I had surgery on my right hand, meaning I struggled to be a clumsy lefty and my abilities have been drastically diminished for the time being. And then, Hurricane Dorian threatened us.
“If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people’s affairs.” 1 Peter 4:15
Okay, that verse makes me feel better. We didn’t kill anyone or steal anything. We don’t make a habit of starting trouble or nosing into people’s business. In addition, we didn’t make outrageous mistakes or foolish decisions that caused any of this. For the most part, these issues resulted from circumstances beyond our control – or beyond our understanding.
“So, if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.” 1 Peter 4:19
But what if our troubles ARE the result of our mistakes?
I try to learn the lessons. I’ve learned some things from that major misunderstanding. I’ve learned to LISTEN more closely. And to realize that everyone doesn’t think or feel the way I do.
Most importantly, I’ve learned to take my pain to my heavenly Father, who loves me no matter what. He loves me even when I mess up, even when I don’t understand, and even when my problems are my own fault.
As his child, my heavenly Father never rejects me, never condemns me, and never stops loving me.
In my case, He is restoring the relationship. He has provided a new job for my husband. I spent precious time this summer with my mom and my sister. My hand is healing, and our home was spared in the hurricane.
Yet, if all these things hadn’t happened to me this year, I wouldn’t have drawn as close to God as I have. When things are going great, we silly humans tend to think we’re doing such a good job at leading our lives that we don’t really need God that much.
Worship, Bible study, and prayer become less of a priority, less powerful, or less prominent in our lives.
But let a hurricane come through, or harmed health, or faltering finances, or a wrecked relationship, and suddenly we need God.
Suffering draws us closer to God.
Yet always remember -- in Christ, we are not condemned. We are FREE from the power of sin and FREE from death.
“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” Romans 8:1-2
Next week: Prized Possession
As we continue to study why God allows suffering.