All Suffering Serves a Purpose

God is Good
Psalms 119:65-66 ESV

“You have dealt well with your servant,
O Lord, according to your word.
Teach me good judgment and knowledge,
for I believe in your commandments.”

God is good all the time, even in times of trials and tribulations which he allows in our lives to discipline us so we may share in his holiness, and in order to teach us perseverance, and to draw us closer to him. When we suffer, we are comforted by God so we may comfort others in their trials.

He allows us to suffer, too, in order to test our faith so as to produce in us steadfastness of faith, to mature us in Christ, to teach us to rely on him and not on ourselves, and that we may share in Christ’s sufferings, becoming like him in his death. If we have been trained by God’s discipline, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

[Rom 5:3-5; Phil 3:7-11; 1 Pet 1:6-7; 1 Pet 4:12-17; 1 Thess 3:1-5; Jas 1:2-4; Matt 5:10-12; Lu 21:12-19; 2 Co 1:3-11; Heb 12:3-12]

No matter what we are going through, no matter how small in significance or how great in matter, God is still working good through it all. Our Lord is completely sovereign over all that he has made, and he is still in control. We can trust him fully. He will never leave or forsake those of us who have put our faith and trust in him, who are following him in obedience.

Before I was Afflicted
Psalms 119:67-68 ESV

“Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I keep your word.
You are good and do good;
teach me your statutes.”

Sometimes the Lord allows us to go through difficult times because we have wandered off from our pure devotion to him. We have gotten caught up in the ways of the world, and we have compromised our faith in order to join in with the pleasures of the world. And so he disciplines us in order to get us to return to our pure devotion to him and to following him in obedience.

Not everyone responds well to discipline, though. Not everyone is convicted of their sinful ways. Some have seared their consciences through repeated offenses, and through continued refusals to say “no” to sin and “yes” to God. Perhaps many of them never did have genuine faith in Jesus Christ, and that is why they can sin without conscience, while others fell into the devil’s trap, for a period of time, and then God brought them back around.

Even though it is never God’s will for us to sin against him, sometimes those who have wandered off for a time have a stronger faith when they return than they had before. They are even more determined than before to walk in holiness and righteousness and to obey the commands of the Lord. For, they know the sting of death, and they don’t want to ever go back.

Smeared with Lies
Psalms 119:69-70 ESV

“The insolent smear me with lies,
but with my whole heart I keep your precepts;
their heart is unfeeling like fat,
but I delight in your law.”

When we do follow our Lord Jesus is full surrender to him and to his will for our lives, and we walk in holiness and righteousness in his power and strength, and we are following the leading of the Holy Spirit in going where he sends us, in doing what he wants us to do, and in saying what he gives us to say, we will be persecuted for righteousness’ sake.

Some people will tell lies about us. They will falsely accuse us of motives or of actions which we did not commit. Some of them may do so because they misjudged us, while others will do so with evil intent in order to cause us harm. Those who have no conscience about telling lies are unfeeling, uncaring, and probably have a root of bitterness or unforgiveness.

But if this happens to us, if we are lied about or to, we can’t let it get us down. We can’t let it destroy our faith. We will have troubles in this world, no doubt, and we can’t let them take us out. We must continue steadfast in faith with even greater determination to obey our Lord and to follow him wherever he leads us in doing what he says.

Good to Be Afflicted
Psalms 119:71-72 ESV

“It is good for me that I was afflicted,
that I might learn your statutes.
The law of your mouth is better to me
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.”

When we go through trials and tribulations, they don’t feel good. They are troublesome. We are in pain. We are suffering. We cry, and we cry out to God in our suffering. And we pray for deliverance. But we should also pray that we will learn what we need to learn through our trials so that they would not be for naught.

For, not everyone learns their lessons, but many people go back and keep repeating the same offenses over and over again. They don’t let the trials of this life teach them what they need to learn, but they go on in their stupidity, repeating the same offenses, always learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth.

But the wise learn that our trials have a purpose and that there is a lesson for us to learn and to apply to our lives through each one of them. Sometimes the lessons serve as parables in our lives to teach us biblical truth, and sometimes it is just the pain of them that gets us to listen to the Lord and to do what he says.

But if our learning is only temporary, and not permanent, it doesn’t do us much good. For some people will learn and change for a short period of time only to go right back to where they were before. But we need to let our trials produce in us true change of heart and mind to where we never go back to doing what we did when we went astray.

This is not saying we will be perfect at this point, or that we will never sin again, but that if we truly learn our lessons, and if we take God’s discipline to heart, it will produce in us permanent change that results in seriousness of purpose and direction for our lives in following our Lord wherever he sends us in doing whatever it is he commands that we do.

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer

Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

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