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By Nelson Thomas, Mumbai

Why do bad things happen to good people?”, has been an age-old puzzling question. In spite of their devotion, godliness, and clean life, when saints passed through untold agonies, they asked in frustration, “why me?” or “how long?”. The story of Job, the confusion of Asaph in Psalm 73 and the perplexing questions of Prophet Habakkuk are some of the examples of this dilemma.

Remember, suffering is not just confined to Christians; everyone grieves in one way or other. Job puts it precisely, “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble.” (Job 14:1 ESV).

1. As part of Adamic generation.

Ever since Adam fell into sin, everyone born into his generation is bearing its consequences. All the pain and sorrow, even death resulted basically due to sin (Genesis 3:17 – 19; Rom. 5:12). Even though we have been liberated from the bondage of sin and enjoy all the blessings of the heavenly places in Christ, we continue to live in this cursed earth and environment. Further, we live in a body that is frail and decaying.

2. As part of the new creation.

Tribulation is also part of the divine process by which we are being prepared for God’s kingdom. (Acts 14:22; 1Thess. 3:3; 1Peter 4:12) God in His wisdom allows various forms of trials to teach, mould, and purify His people. As a loving Father, He chastens us to correct when we go astray (Hebrews 12:5 – 8).

3. As part of the body of Christ.

Another reason behind the inevitable sorrows of the saints is the satanic opposition to the body of Christ. Satan hates Christ our Lord and His people. He finds it more convenient to attack the body of Christ than the Lord Himself who is in glory today.

So, we can never expect a better treatment than what our Lord received from this world (John 15:20, 21; 16:33; 17:14). As we follow Christ’s footsteps, it is foolishness to expect a trouble-free life in this world (1Peter 2:21 – 23).

Thus, a Christian’s sufferings are threefold than the ordinary man's. We face all kinds of afflictions from every corner (James 1:2c; 2Cor. 4:8; 11:23). Such fiery trials adversely affect us physically (2Cor. 4:16; 6:5; 11:23), mentally (2Cor. 1:8, 9; 4:10), and socially (Luke 23:18; John 19:15; Acts 21:36; 22:2).

In the midst of such bitter, tearful experiences, God’s people persevered joyfully (James 1:2; 1Peter 1:6, 8). Their ‘manifold trials’ did not diminish their ‘unspeakable joy’ (Acts 5:41; 2Cor. 6:37; Hab. 3:17, 18). In fact, troubles only strengthened their faith and hope in the Lord. Apostle Paul poignantly stated, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2Cori. 12:10).

We have plenty of examples in the scripture that reveal how the godly took the time of weeping as a time to rejoice!

In Psalm 13, the psalmist begins with desperate questions, “How long?”. It seems David, in his prolonged afflictions, earnestly sought the Lord for deliverance. But seeing no answer he concluded that God has forgotten him or hidden His face and there will be no end to his sorrows. He also anticipated his utter humiliation before the enemies (vs. 1, 2).

However, by the end of this short psalm, we see him confident, happy, and even singing (v. 5, 6). This is in fact the blessed privilege of every born-again Christian. In the midst of innumerable miseries, the Lord graciously allows them to find comfort and strength to face every tribulation triumphantly (cf. Psalm 30: 5, 6, 11).

What made David to change from his words of complaint to confidence and praise? According to Psalm 13, we can notice he realized three valuable truths. If we too comprehend these three realities, our worries and grievances will be changed to worship and reassurance.

1.         The Sovereignty of God, Psa. 13:3
“O LORD my God” - David acknowledged who the LORD God Almighty is for him. Wholeheartedly accepting God’s authority over us removes all our fears and anxieties.

On another occasion, David wrote, “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, The power and the glory, The victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, And You are exalted as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, And You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; In Your hand it is to make great And to give strength to all.” (1Chron. 29: 11, 12).

Because our Lord is sovereign and does everything according to His perfect will and time, we only need to trust and wait for Him. Of course, this demands humility and patience. And in reality, these are the two valuable traits our God wants to inculcate in every believer.

2.         The frailty of man, Psa. 13:3
“Enlighten my eyes” – David also accepted his limitations. He did not understand everything. That’s why he is seeking divine enlightenment.

This is another essential reality that we ought to accept in the midst of adversities. Unless God Himself reveals to us, we can never fully comprehend God and His purposes (Job 8:9; John 13: 7; 1Cor. 13:12; 1John 3:2).

3.         The goodness of the Lord, Psa. 13:6
“He has dealt bountifully with me”. Though David did not fully understand God’s dealings with him, he had no doubt about God’s mercy or His salvation (cf. v.5). He was fully assured that all that God does is only for good and that too in abundance.

Remember, we see only one side, but God looks at our entire life from an eternal perspective. When we accept this difference in the human and divine standpoint, we are reassured (Isa. 55:8, 9).

As a Master Potter with a long-term plan God is working on us (Jer. 18:6). We may not fully comprehend all that He plans and does with us, but rest assured, He does everything well (2Cor. 4:18; Rom. 8:28).

He may break us to make us afresh (Jer. 18: 4). He may also lead us through unpleasant ways to mould and teach us. Even when the Lord allows our adversaries to unleash atrocities against us, still the sovereign Lord makes it for our own good.

Sometimes God would use the afflictions of one of His chosen ones for the encouragement and comfort of many others. Realizing this truth Apostle Paul wrote, “Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.” (2Cori. 1:4).

Nonetheless, no agony is forever. Writing to the suffering saints, Apostle Peter says, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials.” (1Peter 1:6).“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.” (1Peter 5:10).

Paul also wrote similar thoughts, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” (2Cor. 4:17).

Even as the wisest among men remain confused at the question of pain and suffering, let us be assured of our Lord’s perfect plan for us and patiently yield to it. He will not withhold any good from His people. Whatever unfavourable circumstances we experience today will be beneficial to us in the course of time. Not only will we have an increased Christlikeness but fruitfulness too, exhibiting the glory of the Master.

Relted topics: GOD’s PROVIDENCE EVEN WHEN HIS PEOPLE ARE TROUBLED / Persecution and Christians


More:- An index for all studies

Prepared by Nelson Thomas as part of his teaching ministry. You can reproduce this article in any medium, provided it is unedited, and retain the original author / copyright information and reference to this website. Please feel free to write to the author for details. Or contact    gracepeaceu AT gmail.com

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