Saturday, January 17, 2009

What Can Suffering Do?

A tremendous little-known OT Minor Prophet, Zephaniah, has made an amazing statement concerning suffering, & it is in the context of the future Great Tribulation to come on the earth, before Christ's glorious Millennial Reign! In chapter 3, verse 12 of his prophecy, Zephaniah prophesies, "I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD."
Have you ever faced the question, often posed by those outside of the Faith, of why God allows some to have all or more than they need, while seeminly He allows others to suffer terribly without His apparent care? Some have actually used this seeming inequity of life to blame God & walk away from Him rather than to trust Him as the righteous Judge of all the earth to do right. This verse may have at least a partial answer for this tough question. Certainly we will not adequately answer this question on this humble blog! But I believe we can gain some valuable insight into it through this great Bible text. What if one actually did suffer the loss of everything he had in this world, but it caused him to finally see his need of a Savior, & he trusted in Christ? Certainly this is a worthy trade, though it is not a trade at all! Paul helps us to see the truth of this when he says, "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ..." (Phil.3:7f, NKJV, emphasis added)
Granted, suffering does not cause everyone to turn to Christ in faith, but it does for some! I suppose finally we must say along with Paul again, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" (Ro.11:33) Some may still try to use the suffering in the world as an excuse to run from God & deny Him now, but it could actually turn out to be our friend if we allow it to draw us nearer to Him. Nothing could be better than to be nearer to Him. Thoughts?