October 21, 2017

Suffering, Pain, Tribulation

By Andy Alexander

The common thread which runs throughout all mankind is suffering. All of us at times in our lives will experience some form of suffering. It may be the loss of a loved one, the illness of a family member, or some injury or illness to our own body, but at one or usually more times in our life we will all experience pain and suffering. At these times in our life we should we drawn closer to God, realizing that he can supply the strength which we need to continue in this life. However, many times in our depressed state, we turn from the one true Source of strength and courage and fall into the hands of the crafty individual who is the real cause of our problems. Satan will use these times in our lives, when we are the most vulnerable, to try to turn our hearts from God.

The case of Job is an example of how Satan will use these tragedies in our lives. Not only was he the one who caused the evil to come upon Job, but during the whole ordeal he used Job's wife and friends to try to convince him that God was the source of his pain and suffering (Job 2:9). Satan will attack us in similar ways using our friends and relatives at times in an effort to shake our confidence in God. Anyone who would kick somebody when he is down is a despicable character. There is no depth to which he won't stoop in order to lure some unsuspecting soul from God (Eph. 6:11-12; 1 Pet. 5:8-10).

The apostle Paul understood who was behind his suffering. In 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, he informs us that the thorn in his flesh was a "messenger of Satan." He also knew that when he was hindered from returning to Thessalonica, the ultimate cause of the hindrance was Satan (1 Thess. 2:18). Satan, not God, is the source of our suffering.

Those of us who are followers of God and put our hope and trust in God are not promised a life free from pain and sorrow. But, we do have someone to turn to in those times and someone who knows our problems and can help (Heb. 4:15-16). The faithful Christian can go to God in prayer and be confident that God will answer his prayer (I Jn. 3:22; 5:14-15). But, we must be willing to accept the answer God gives us. It may not be God's will to heal us, but our attitude should be that whatever the will of God is, we will remain faithful.

An excellent illustration of his principle can be seen in the lives of three Jewish captives. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to worship the idol erected in Babylon and, when threatened with death in a burning fiery furnace, they answered, "Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us" (Dan. 3:17). Now, they did not know if it was God's will to deliver them, but they believed that he could do it. Their next statement in verse 18 is an example of what our attitude should be like when we are facing trials in our lives. "But if not, be it known unto thee, 0 king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." Let us never succumb to the temptation to blame God for our problems. Our attitude needs to be that we are going to serve God faithfully, no matter what trials or tribulations we are asked to bear in this life.

The blessing of prayer belongs to those who are following Christ and doing his will (1 Jn. 3:22). If you are outside of Christ and you want to have all the blessings that belong to those who are in Christ including prayer, the Lord stands ready at all times to receive you (Matt. 1:28). The alien sinner must believe in Jesus as the Son of God, confess Jesus before men, repent of his sins, and be baptized, for the remission of those sins. Then the Lord will add him to his body (Jn. 3:16; Matt. 10:32; Acts 2:38). Many people will balk at baptism, but baptism washes away the sins of a penitent believer and puts him into Christ (Acts 22:16; Gal. 3:27). All spiritual blessings are in Christ and baptism is the means chosen by God to put one into Christ (Eph. 1:3; 1 Cor. 12:13). If we reject baptism, were rejecting a command of God (Acts 10:48).

Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 9, p. 271
May 4, 1989

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