December 24, 2008
by Charles R. Swindoll
Remember that suffering is not new. In what is probably the oldest book in the Bible, the book of Job, we read, "For man is born for trouble, as sparks fly upward" (Job 5:7). Now there's a statement we need to teach our children and grandchildren, starting today. The message they consistently hear is that God has nothing but happiness and success in store for them if they'll entrust their lives to Him. The Bible never promises that! Amazingly, while scraping sores from his diseased and pain-racked body, Job asked, "Shall we indeed accept good from God and not adversity?" He made that statement in response to his wife's advice to "curse God and die." She too was broken from the loss of her children and the misery of watching her husband suffer so terribly. (As a young preacher, I came down too hard on Job's wife. Now I go easier on her. She was grieving, not blaming. She needed God's perspective on her pain.) It was when her husband witnessed how deep her grief was that he responded as he did. He wanted her to realize that God is not a heavenly bellboy, delivering only pleasurable and comforting things to our door. He doesn't exist to make us happy. We exist to bring Him glory.
We live in superficial, skeptical times. When hard times occur you will find scores of newly released titles questioning how a loving God could be so unfair and unjust. It is easy to be confused in one's understanding of God. But He has not changed. His ways have not been altered. As with Job and Paul, He continues to allow suffering to mold us into humble, useful servants.
Throw one of us in a dungeon and we want to talk to our lawyer! Throw those guys in prison, and the world ends up with Pilgrim's Progress, or some other magnificent literary work that endures for centuries, putting our suffering back into perspective. Resist the temptation to rethink God just because hard times come. Look deeper. Cling to Him tighter. Refuse to question His motives. He's doing something great within you. Suffering is nothing new.
Reprinted by permission. Day by Day, Charles Swindoll, July 2005, Thomas Nelson, inc., Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved. Purchase "Day by Day" here.