This is Part 2 of 4 parts answering the question, “How can you be released from the suffering God allows?” in the larger question, “Why does a loving God allow suffering?” Parts 3-4 will be posted on succeeding days.
Fix Your Eyes on the Lord
Right after his presentation of the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11, the writer to the Hebrews recorded the Lord’s solution for dealing with the challenges of life. While some of them endured torture, torments and wanderings in the wilderness, they refused physical deliverance in order to obtain a better resurrection or reward (Heb. 11: 35). How does a person endure without losing their faith? How does someone persevere in persecution and agony for the name of the Lord Jesus?
The writer made it clear that you will have to lay aside everything that distracts and weighs you down. You cannot run if you have a backpack full of “guilt” rocks, that is guilt for personal failures, fears of inadequacy and foolish actions. You cannot run the race if you are permeated by bitterness. You cannot press towards the mark while allowing sin to entangle you into the tentacles of the world. He explained,
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb. 12:1-2 NKJ)
That “looking” is a continuous action which will give you victory over any trouble – from any source. You may not feel the physical release, but the eternal reward will be great!
3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. 4 You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. (Heb. 12:3-4 NKJ)
Look to the Lord Jesus and consider what He has gone through because although His suffering was the worst that any huan has ever experienced you can endure similar trials with His empowerment! You have the same power available to you that He has as he depended on in the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1,14, 18)
Meanwhile, Be Still!
One of the sons of Korah wrote the great Psalm 46. Verse ten commands us to be still, so that God can manifest Himself,
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! (Ps. 46:10 NKJ)
God will exalt Himself, with or without your efforts. As we have seen in the life of Job, He may choose to allow you to be humbled so He can be lifted up. The experience for Job (or for you) was not pleasant at all, but the results were incredible. We may even ask for relief from the pain, which is not a problem. However, by focusing on relief, may go against the Lord’s purposes to exalt Himself and bless you.
Paul learned this as he begged the Lord to remove the mysterious “thorn in the flesh,” a physical malady that was never described in Scripture. Stanley Toussaint, a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, comments,
Speculation abounds as to what the thorn in the flesh was. Paul never identifies it. From Galatians 4:12–14 when they concluded that it was repulsive. This would constantly remind Paul to walk humbly before the Lord.
Physical infirmity does not limit God’s ability to use people. The most loathsome may ultimately become the most effective means of displaying God’s power and glory. What an encouragement this is for suffering saints! Many times the greater the infirmity, the greater the opportunity to display God’s glory.1
While the Lord did not remove that pain in his side, Paul learned to “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.” (2 Cor. 12:10 NKJ) That is, after all, the issue of life – trusting the Lord through our afflictions with dependence on Him and using that affliction to magnify Him through exalting His grace through the trial.
Part 3 will be posted tomorrow.