Perfect in Suffering
Today's Reading: Ezekiel 33-34; 1 Peter 5
But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 1 Peter 5:10
The word "suffer" is not a word that brings comfort or peace. When we hear someone is suffering, we feel concern, sympathy and even sadness for that person. The definition for suffering means "to experience a sensation or impression (usually painful)." The other fact that we as Christians must deal with is that God allows suffering. Nothing on this planet or in the universe happens without God's approval.
Why does this loving, gracious God allow tragedies that bring such suffering? Why does evil persist, even in homes and families who seek the Lord the most? These and many more questions are asked when we try to make sense of God's ways. Satan has taken full advantage of these events in our lives; at least he has tried to. Have you ever had thoughts like: "Why should I believe that doing things God's way brings me any assurance of protection or blessings?" Or, "If God loves me then why is He letting this happen to me?" The same logic applies when we turn those same thoughts to others. People hurt us, so let's not trust people anymore. Circumstances hurt us, so let's control everything we possibly can to prevent being hurt (Hurt, by the way, is just another description for suffering.).
The bottom-line answer is that we will never fully understand why God does what He does. We must live as He has told us to live—by faith. We must believe and trust that the Lord has a reason for everything that happens to us. When we dig into His Word and study His teachings, then we will have more peace in those times of confusion and pain. Today's verse is an example of how we can find peace and hope in times of suffering. We should pray this verse and meditate on it as we are going through those times of suffering. If we can look beyond our pain for the moment and pray to see the bigger picture that God has for us, then we can find hope and even peace in what we are going through. Even in the midst of great tragedies that tempt us to ask God "why," we can trust that He has a much greater plan than what we see in the short term. The question for us is whether or not we will trust Him or turn from Him.
Take time today to really meditate on the verse above. Take comfort and trust the Lord to "perfect, establish, strengthen and settle you" after you have suffered awhile. Only God knows the timing of such things. Pray for the perseverance to endure.
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