Read Part 1.
My comfort in suffering comes from the knowledge that God ordains my suffering for my eternal good and his glory. It is not enough to say that God allows my suffering. After all, why would God allow something if it wasn’t for the best. For God to allow something would imply that another force of equal or greater power was the actual cause of my suffering. That is clearly not the case. So, the all-wise God must be the prime cause of my suffering, and if He is all-loving and all-powerful, then He ordains it for my good and fully controls it.
Some may ask, how is that comforting??? I am comforted by the truth of God’s all-wise and sovereign ordination of my suffering because I know that none of it is wasted, and I do not suffer one more second than God ordains. Every second of my suffering is precisely what God knows I need to grow in holiness. Romans 5:3-5 reminds us:
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
“More bad news.” Throughout my nine-month ordeal with the brain tumor and lymphoma there were few positive developments. Even what we thought were positive developments turned out to be false hopes. My wife and I felt like we were slowly descending into an abyss. I felt like I was slipping down a steep slope to death, which lay at the bottom with its mouth open for me like a yawning chasm. I wanted to stop and get off the ride, but this wasn’t a ride, and I couldn’t stop anything. I had no control.
Control. That was the illusion I missed the most. I say “illusion,” because we should all be painfully aware that we have control over absolutely nothing in our lives. Zip, zilch, nada. Yet the illusion is so strong that it is almost irresistible. The consequences of maintaining that illusion are serious.
We think that we can avoid difficulty by living wisely, eating healthy foods, and exercising; yet, even healthy people drop dead suddenly. We think that if we follow God’s directions for rearing children and we try to be the best parents possible that our children will never wander from God. We think that if we work diligently to be the best in our vocation we can protect ourselves from economic hardship; yet, something like the Coronavirus can turn the economy on its head in a matter of weeks, leaving us jobless.
The truth is we have no real control of our lives. Thankfully, that does not mean that no one is in control. Christians have always confessed that God is sovereign, that is as the Westminster Confession of faith says:
"In his book God Reforms Hearts: Rethinking Free Will and the Problem of Evil, [Thaddeus Williams] reexamines the place that libertarian free will has taken in Christian responses to the problem of evil, and more particularly whether authentic human love requires libertarian free will." - TGC
"As Christians we know that God’s sovereign hand draws a line that leads from suffering to meaning, from pain to purpose, from grief to good. There is no affliction that leads nowhere, no sorrow that is ultimately futile, senseless, or pointless." - Challies
Reposted from Rooted Thinking.
In a recent article, I told my story of struggling with idolizing missions. After that surrender and spiritual blessing, God used my physical problems to redirect my ministry.
The Lord allowed me to recover enough to continue to serve in Cambodia. However, it was clear that I no longer have the physical ability to maintain an aggressive evangelistic ministry like I once did. Now I found that I had to tackle ministry one day at a time, because I could not schedule with much certainty.
God graciously worked in Pursat and allowed us to train a man for the ministry who took over the church in Pursat. We moved on to the northeastern remote province of Oddar Meanchey at the Thai border to see if the Lord would allow me to recover more and be able to pursue church planting there. Health limitations were too great for church planting, but the Lord allowed us to teach professed believers in the wider area that were in desperate need of foundational Bible teaching. No doubt some came to genuine saving faith through that ministry. It was a real disappointment not to be able to pursue church planting there, because the need was profound.