This is Part 1 of 4 parts to the question, “What happens to those who dwell on the suffering that God allows?” answering the larger question, “Why does a loving God allow suffering?” Parts 2 through 4 will be posted in the following days.
Man’s Way versus God’s Way
We are studying the difference between man’s way and God’s way. Isaiah made it clear that there is a distinct difference. He recorded,
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. (Is. 55:8-9 NKJ)
Man’s way is a life of bondage and slavery to sin (Rom. 7:19), while God’s way is freedom through dependence on His Holy Spirit, “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Cor. 3:17 NKJ), which freedom is based on Truth, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32 NKJ) The process of growing in Truth and being set apart to God (called sanctification), occurs as the Holy Spirit makes this Truth more and more real in the believer’s life, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” (John 17:17 NKJ)
However, when a person dwells on the suffering that God allows, he focuses on the details of life rather than the one who provides delivery from these details of life, through the peace that only He can give! It may not seem fair, especially if he did not initiate his present circumstances. For example, if a person slandered you and you focused on the injury to your reputation, that is a normal human response. As you grow, you learn to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus (Heb. 12:2).
However, if you continue to focus on the offence instead of grasping hold of God’s solution, the problem will only increase. If you become injury-centered, you’ll start believing the worst about the person who injured you. You’ll wonder how many others have heard, and what they might be thinking of you. You may begin avoiding people, because you don’t want to face their judgments. You may develop sin patterns of hatred for the person who slandered you, resentment for having to face others, anxiety about what was said, doubt as to whether or not you’ll be able to recover your reputation, and even deceitfulness to underhandedly try to get back at the person, ALL of which are sins on your part. They may have sinned first, but your response continued it, because you focused on the effect the sin had on you.1
Then you might compound the problem by using unbiblical words and actions. For example, you may dispute the accusation and demonstrate impatience with the person, or you may gossip by talking to other people about what was done. Whether what you say is true or not, if you talk about another person to someone who is not part of the solution, you are gossiping and that is sin. You might show unkindness from impatience or complain about the situation to others. ALL of these actions are sins and must be confessed to the Lord. These sinful words and actions can further compound into physical symptoms and damage like headaches, high blood pressure, insomnia, hypertension, and many others.
Life without Jesus Christ is Empty and Hard
When a person takes his eyes off of Jesus Christ, the Author and Finisher of his faith, the result will be emptiness and futility, and ultimately greater suffering and misery. The pain will escalate because that is his focus rather than the means of delivery God has provided (which will be explained in much greater detail in Parts Three and Four). In fact, the problems will increase and grow worse,
Good understanding gains favor, but the way of the unfaithful is hard. (Pro 13:15 NKJ)
14 Happy is the man who is always reverent, But he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity. (Pro 28:14 NKJ)
Israel foolishly hardened her heart and suffered greater consequences. The writer to Hebrews stated,
7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you will hear His voice, 8 Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, In the day of trial in the wilderness, 9 Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, And saw My works forty years. 10 Therefore I was angry with that generation, And said, `They always go astray in their heart, And they have not known My ways.’ 11 So I swore in My wrath, `They shall not enter My rest.'” 12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, 15 while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” 16 For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? 17 Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of un (Heb. 3:7-19 NKJ)
If man neglects God’s upward call of Christ, then he will slide down the “Downward Spiral” of greater misery.
Part 2 will be posted tomorrow.