The suffering through which a believer may be called to pass is often the highest service to which he or she may be called. It is a service which demands total and unquestioning commitment to the mind and purpose of God. It is far easier to be used in the service of God when active; it is easy to accept the will of God when in the good of all material, physical and spiritual blessings; but it demands far greater consecration and faith to be laid aside and, from the human viewpoint, not to be used.
Suffering is a ministry which few are able to bear. The apostle Paul asked the question at his conversion in Acts 9. 6, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”, and in answer to Ananias the Lord said, “I will show him how great things he must suffer”, v. 16. Thus when a believer is called to lie on a bed of sickness and suffering, there is the assurance that every pang and sorrow is seen from the throne of God, and that there is no power on earth or in hell that can cause one moment of pain apart from the permissive will of the God of love, 1 Cor. 10. 13. At a time of weakness and despondency, it is so easy to ask the question. Why? It behoves us to ponder and to consider Him who says, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love”, Jer. 31. 3. When we consider what righteousness demanded of Him, and the price that His love was willing to pay so that we might be redeemed, when we consider Him, we shall not be wearied and faint, Heb. 12. 3.
Ponder for a moment and consider what He endured at the hands of sinners: the scourging, the crown of thorns, the nails, the mocking, so that in agony we hear Him cry, as it were, from the cross, “behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow”, Lam 1. 12. There He hangs: all His bones are out of joint, Psa. 22. 14, the cruel roughly-hewn cross cutting into His torn and bleeding back. His body supported by four nails, so that every breath brought excruciating pain to every nerve and muscle in His parched sun-scorched body. Then we realize that this cup of suffering was according to the will of His eternal Father, with whom the Son had always enjoyed eternal communion, the One who had been His constant source of strength and comfort throughout His earthly life, Matt. 26 39. Now in the hours of darkness His God had forsaken Him, as He cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”, 27. 46. In this utter loneliness of Calvary, when even the sun refused to shine, we hear that question ring out to the throne of heaven, Why? But in the silence which followed, we hear by faith the answer: it was in order that you and I - those who are the subjects of His love - should never be forsaken by Him
Such is the greatness of His love towards us. In this assurance we can rest: just as there is the certainty that every morning the rising of the sun will herald the dawn of a new day, so sure can we be that His love towards us cannot change.
The love wherewith He loves the Son:
Such is His love to me.
The assurance of the indwelling of His Holy Spirit witnesses to the fact that we are hidden in the beloved One. Although we may falter and fail when sorrows and sufferings pour over us like a flood, when we seem to stand forsaken by all friends and loved ones, then we can take heart. Even in the midst of the storm, as God looks upon us, He sees us as His beloved, as a dove in the cleft of the rock, safe in the arms of the One who is as a hiding place from the storm, the shadow of a great rock in a weary land, Isa. 32. 2. His Word today is this: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness”. 41. 10.
Sometimes when one visits a dear saint of God in the midst of pain and suffering, one hears the reason suggested that such a situation has arisen because of past sin demanding divine judgment. Beloved, if such a thought should enter the mind, it may well be the word of Satan himself trying to discourage and depress For God has not dealt with us judicially after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities, Psa. 103. 10. The question of judgment against sin has once and for all been dealt with at the cross, and sins and iniquities will not be remembered again, Heb 10. 17 If a believer looks backwards, he will become despondent; rather we look ahead - unto Jesus When we keep our eyes fixed on Him, we can rest in the knowledge that with Him there are no mistakes. The promise of His Word can be a reality to us, as we find our strength in the quietness of His presence. In the light of this, believers should live their lives so that any subsequent sufferings are for the glory of God, John 11. 4, far removed from the disciplinary sufferings of which the Scriptures speak, Heb. 12. 11; 1 Cor. 11. 30; Acts 5 1-11.
As the Lord Jesus Christ went towards Calvary, He took Peter aside to Himself. He knew how far from Him Peter would go, how that he would deny his Lord with oaths and curses, how that his love would once again return to fishing and to the things of this life. Yet even to Peter He could say, “I have prayed for thee … and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren”, Luke 22. 32. In other words: Peter, you are going to pass through experiences which will break your heart; you will know bitterness of soul far greater than any of your brethren, but through your experiences the lessons that you will learn will enable you to help and encourage your brethren, who may be young and weak, in a way in which no one else will be able. Paul, too, passed through “the sufferings of Christ”, so that he could then comfort others, 2 Cor 1. 3-7.
To you, dear soul, in your present pain and sorrow, the message of the Saviour is the same: I am praying for you; see Romans 8. 34-35 The experiences through which you are passing today may well enable you in the future to help, encourage, strengthen and sustain others in times of crisis in their lives. Only to you has God been able to trust the deep lessons of these experiences learned in the school of His secret place.
Not until the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly.
Shall God unfold the canvas
And explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the Weaver’s skilful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.
In the judgment day, some unbeliever may be there who will say, “I rejected Thee in bitterness because of all I suffered. I could not see or believe that Thou lovedst me”. But with the Lord in glory will be some of whom He will say. “Here are those who suffered much, yet through it all trusted Me”. Their joy will be to hear from the lips of our risen glorified Saviour in that day when we see Him face to face in glory, “Well done, for even in sorrow and in suffering thou hast been a good and faithful servant; enter now into the joy of thy eternal reward”, see Rom. 8. 18.
When trials come upon thee,
When weakness dulls the mind and doubts assail;
Remember it is not thy strength that keeps thee.
You’re in My hand, and My strength must prevail.
When weary and dejected;
Remember I am always by your side,
I suffered death, that I may sanctify thee:
Lean hard, and in My will abide.
The pathway soon is o’er.
When all will be revealed and clear will be,
When clothed in glory, like unto My glory,
You rest in perfect peace eternally.
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