“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Judah was facing seventy years of captivity for their sinful rebellion against God. Yet, He wants them to know His thoughts for them. It was not to do them evil, but to give them a future and a hope. This is what God wants for all His people.
Sometimes we find ourselves suffering the consequences of our sins, as well as the sins of others. In those times we can become discouraged, knowing only doom and destruction. Often, we become angry at ourselves, at others and at God. It is difficult for us to understand what is happening and why it is happening. Instead of turning to God in prayer and going to His word for answers and for help, we fall away from Him.
Are you feeling fatigued and overburdened? Everyone experiences sin, stress, grief, heartache, pain and misery. It can be overwhelming and seemingly impossible to overcome. There is often no relief and no escape.
Here is Jesus' invitation to you: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
There are a lot of things we do not understand about suffering. Many of our questions go unanswered but there are some things we can know.
We can know that God knows all about our suffering (Psalms 56:8).
We can know that God understands everything we are going through (Hebrews 4:15).
We can know that God truly cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).
Suffering hurts. We don’t want to suffer. But it will help us to know that there are at least five benefits of suffering for the Christian.
1. It tests our faith (Jam. 1:2-4). If we meet our trials with faith, we will develop the patience needed to mature spiritually. It is when our faith is tested that we grow and become strong. So, we can rejoice even in our trials. Do you remember how God tested Abraham’s faith in Genesis 22, commanding him to sacrifice his son? Can you imagine a greater test of faith? Hebrews 11:17-19 explains what Abraham was thinking. He believed God would raise his son from the dead. That is a great faith. Do we have the faith of Abraham? Will we trust God enough to do what He has asks of us? God wants to know if you will keep faith even in the greatest tests of life.
Robert Dodson is the Preaching Minister for the Northwest Church of Christ.
6059 Azle Avenue
Fort Worth, TX 76135