Thursday, May 28, 2020

When Suffering Is Good - Martin Wiles

My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees. Psalm 119:71 NLT

His messages fluctuate between good and bad.

Santhosh pastors in India. One of his recent messages said, “Twenty-five people have taken water baptism today. All of them came to Christ from non-Christian background. God is doing great work here.”

But the news isn’t always good. One message read, “Please continue to pray for Kerala. The situation is very horrible. There is no electricity, there is no toilets, no place to stay, even the hospitals are full of water and not working. Pregnant women and children are suffering literally.   Scarcity of food, drinking water. Dead bodies of animals are floating everywhere.”

Then come the stories of persecution. The accounts of pastors and other believers being burned or persecuted in other ways. The stories of Hindu nationalists who stop missionaries and burn an entire trunkful of Bibles they had intended to distribute.
His conclusion: “In spite of the increasing persecution and opposition, many people are coming to Christ and taking water baptism publicly.”

The psalmist would agree with my friend: suffering for his faith brought good. And, ironically, persecution has always led to the growth of Christianity while good times have resulted in complacency.

Suffering reminds me to pay attention to God’s commands and that I suffer because I obey them. God’s commands most often run counter-cultural. Although enacting them would result in a better society, sinful natures take us in the opposite direction because we think we know better than God. When we put God’s commands into action, they run against the grain, offend others, and often bring forms of persecution and suffering.

At the same time, suffering refines my faith. It takes faith to go against the norm. Others reject us, ridicule us, persecute us. When we take this path of most resistance, God grows our faith. We can’t walk this way without the strength He provides. Trying to go it alone leads to failure.

Suffering also brings good because it creates empathy for others. When we suffer for doing the right thing, we’re more likely to identify with others who suffer for the same reason. In turn, we’ll band together to do this great Kingdom work God has given us to do.

God doesn’t waste anything, and He won’t waste your suffering. Let your suffering—physical, spiritual, and emotional—lead to good in your life.

Prayer: Father, we accept the persecution as a part of our responsibility in following You.

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