To the non-believer, rejoicing and hoping during times of adversity and affliction seems to be an exercise in futility or unreality. The non-believer challenges, “How can a loving God allow such pain? ”
Many believers might ask the same question, albeit not publicly.
We know there is a reason for pain, regardless of our acceptance or even understanding the reason. To tell the suffer-er that the pain is for the glory of God seems…well uncaring to say the least.
The suffer-er knows what the Word says, he/she just finds the application hard. Cherished friends have been suffering for what seems to be a lifetime. “When will it end?” is the unvoiced question.
The Psalmist writes (Psalm 119):
It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes.
Those who fear You will be glad when they see me, because I have hoped in Your word.
This is such a manifestation of trust in the goodness of God. The suffer-er finds personal benefits for his sufferings. But he also recognizes that God might have purpose beyond himself – and that is the benefit for others. The suffer-er accepts that how he responds to suffering will become a testimony of faith. And through that testimony, along with the blood of the Lamb, he will overcome!
I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.
Go back and reread that verse. The Psalmist declares that our afflictions come through God’s faithfulness!
We don’t know what the suffer-er’s situation was. Had he strayed or sinned? God will not be mocked as we reap what we have sown. Regardless, the suffer-er relies on the faithfulness of God.
The choice of the Hebrew word translated as “faithfulness” is interesting. It is not the root “emet” which comes from “amen” which gets translated as “true, faith, faithfulness.” Instead the Psalmist uses “hesed” which is best translated as “the covenant keeping loving kindness of God.”
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to beconformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. (Romans 8:28-29)
Here is the real testimony of a faith in God that trascends circumstances and looks to the faithful love of God. The God who laid on His only begotten Son the suffering, sin and sickness of the world.
When we look at His cross, the ultimate in suffering, while it doesn’t end our suffering, we can know that we are not alone. Because of His suffering, Jesus understands our pain and walks with us through our circumstances.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)