We ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure. II Thess. 1:4
“Tribulations…” such a biblical word. Let’s bring it into our everyday lingo. From Roget’s Thesaurus, a few synonyms that you very well know, and may even be feeling (and if you’re not feeling them now, wait until tomorrow). How about, “affliction… blow… burden … care… cross to bear… difficulty… distress… heartache… sorrow…trouble?” Any of these fit well right now? I assume there is not one of us who is not well acquainted with the list above.
Shocking it is that these above are part of the “will of God.” I Peter 1:19 “Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.” A chapter later, Peter writes “But may the God of all grace, who called us to eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered awhile, perfect, establish, strengthen and settle you.” Paul makes an equally incredible declaration in II Cor. 12, “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.”
We are in error to assume this solely applies in time of spiritual persecution. Paul penned this in regard to his “thorn in the flesh.” We haven’t a hint what that thorn might be. But it likely had nothing to do with a wave of persecution. Do you have a thorn in the flesh at this time in your life, an excruciating pain? Perhaps it is a thorn you think comparatively minor. It is a thorn nevertheless. Often the most painful thorns are actually quite small, and yet the pain is great.
Job experienced the mystery of pain in the hand of God. After bold, but errant counsel and many words from the closest of friends, he realized, that in the end, there were to be things which “I did not understand, things too wonderful for me which I did not know.” Pain rarely makes sense to us in the day. Occasionally it is understood tomorrow, but it may not be until heaven when clarity is gained. To Job, the result of pain actually became “wonderful!” Pain, hurt, heartache (call it what you want), is a mighty tool in the hand of our wise and loving God. Psalm 119: 67, 71 & 75, reveals what results in God’s use of affliction, when we let it.
Three quotes, two from Spurgeon and the latter from Chambers—
As sure as ever God puts his children in the furnace, He will be in the furnace with them.
In shunning a trial, we are seeking to avoid a blessing.
The counterfeit of true spirituality is that produced by creeds. When one has been bereaved the most trying person is the one with a creed who can come with didactic counsel with regard to suffering; but turn to Job where nothing is taught at all, but wonderful expression is given to the real suffering of life, and the mere reading of it brings consolation to a breaking heart.
Our LORD– “despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…surely He has born our griefs and carried our sorrows.” He is good, He understands!