1 Peter 4:12-19 says,
12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
So this post is a little different than the previous two but I want to share something with you that I wrote on November 20, 2014. I was flying home for Thanksgiving on Southwest from Atlanta to Tampa. As I often do on my flights, I whipped out my Bible and began reading. That particular day I was reading 1 Peter 4 and felt led to write down a little something that was stirring in my heart. But first let me give you a little background into what was going on in my life at the time. I had been suffering from a HORRIBLE back injury that came out of nowhere and I was growing really weary. I was constantly in pain and they could not figure out what was wrong. 1 Peter 4 really spoke to me so I decided to write about it. Here is what I wrote, 4 hours before I found out my best friend had been killed in a senseless car wreck that forever changed my life.
I would rather suffer and have pain with God on my side and be marked by His overwhelming presence and faithfulness, than to live an easy life free of suffering. Many will ask well where is your God now? Why did He allow this to happen to you? You are suffering and He hasn’t delivered you.
But for me there is hope in the suffering. God allowed me to suffer because He knew it would draw me back to Him and draw me closer to His heart. I’m sure you have heard of the saying “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” I have a hard time believing that. If God never gave us more than we could handle why would we need Him? You see the essence of suffering and pain is to reveal that we cannot do it on our own. We need a sovereign and faithful God to rescue us. We need His healing, His peace, and His strength to overcome times of heartache, pain, and suffering. We need Him when it seems that all hope is lost and the pain of the situation is all but consuming.
So back to the question many Christians get asked, or might even ask themselves, “Where is your God now? Why hasn’t He stopped the suffering? Why did He leave you in this painful spot?” Our response should not be to be ashamed of our God but to praise Him. Often times it is so easy to give in to the other way of thinking and to lose hope or give up on God. But from my experience over the last 4 months, I have learned that God is praiseworthy because He is God, not because my life is good or bad, but simply because He IS God. And that is enough. More than enough.
So I choose to praise Him.
I choose to believe in His plan for my life, even if it includes suffering and pain.
I choose to believe that this is another obstacle in life that will subsequently draw me closer to my Father.
God is so good.
This was such an encouragement to me as I was able to look back and see God preparing my heart for the news I would receive only hours later. He is always there. Always in control. Always working on your behalf. You are more than a conqueror and loved beyond comprehension.