This is Part 2 of 5 parts answering the question, “Are there forms of suffering God allows we will never understand?” in the larger question, “Why does a loving God allow suffering?” Parts 3-5 will be posted on succeeding days.
There Are Some Secret Things Which Belong Only to the Lord
After the wilderness wanderings, as Moses prepared Israel to go into the Promised Land, he taught them an important truth about the Lord. They were going into a land that they did not plant or build but they would take over its gardens, fields and towns. However, it was not going to be a “walk in the park,” for they were going to have to fight for freedom! The fight is similar to the challenges every Christian will agonize in moving forward in life (Col. 1:29). When the Lord delivered them out of slavery, they received freedom from Egypt. Yet, as they pursued the Lord’s blessing they were going to have to depend on the Lord and let the battle be His rather than theirs.
In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses recorded five messages to Israel to establish a record of their history and admonish them in their calling before the Lord. Within that great book, Moses explained what the Lord’s blessings and cursings would be as He responded to their obedience and disobedience. There would be times when they would not understand some of the cursings, because of their position of being the chosen people. They might forget about this status not because they were more in number than others (Deut. 7:7) or righteous (Deut 9:4), but because the Lord wanted to reveal His glory to the world through them.
As this nation conquered the land and then had to protect it from ground assaults, they might have wondered if the Lord really did choose them, lead them there or even love them! So Moses wrote that there would be some secret things known only to Him, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. (Deut. 29:29 NKJ)
The question for Israel would always be, “Would they trust God both in prosperity and adversity?” This must also be asked of you and me. Will we trust God not only when life seems clear, fair and good but when it seems confusing, unfair and bad? God is under no obligation to us to reveal why we are suffering. He has given us everything we need to know in His Word. It is sufficient for all things.
There Will Be Times of Affliction That Do Not Make Sense
During the Last Supper the Lord was giving the disciples His final instructions and warnings, and revealed to them that they would suffer in life. That was not really what they wanted to hear. The disciples were anticipating that the Lord would establish the Kingdom at any time and relieve them of the Roman oppression. They even anticipated it after Jesus was resurrected before His ascension (Acts 1:6). But they were thinking from the human perspective, not the Divine (Is. 55:8-9).
During the supper, the Lord Jesus told the disciples that they would face tribulation. He said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NKJ) The word for tribulation means “pressure, pressing, oppression, affliction” and “distress.” In the immediate context, the word is used of the labor pains of a woman giving birth to her child (John 16:21). This term is used to describe the Tribulation, which takes place between the Church Age and the Millennium (Matt. 24:9; Rev. 7: 14). It is also used to refer to the murderous persecution of the Christians after the stoning of Stephen (Acts 11:19) and the afflictions Christ endured (Col. 1:24). When your five senses are focused on the pain and anguish of the moment, it is difficult to think objectively, let alone understand what God is trying to do in or by means of the suffering! Affliction may often not make sense.
Invariably, the disciples were not the only ones who did not understand why the Lord was waiting to establish His kingdom.
Part 3 will be posted tomorrow.