God doesn't waste our suffering!

    As I was reading Philippians chapter one, something continues to ring in my head: "God doesn't waste our suffering". In fact, God doesn't waste a thing He allows or does. Paul had written to the Philippians and one of the first things Paul says is that the Gospel is growing because of His suffering and trials. Tons of people were hoping in Jesus because God put or allowed Paul to suffer imprisonment. God had not overlooked the fact that Paul was hurting, but instead lived His life through Paul and the Holy Spirit showed even the Roman guards that they needed Jesus.

    Many times in my life, I have begged God to relieve pain and suffering. Heck, there are times recently that I begged God to stop with the waiting games and give me a job. I know being jobless right now is not suffering, but it is the same mindset I had when I went through depression, struggled for significance in ministry and dealt with rejection. God has never wasted my suffering, even when I inflicted myself with sin. Ever time I sin, I see how good He is and how much more I need Him. Every-time someone around me fails, I see how much more I need Christ and not the person who failed to hold me up. God uses the circumstances in our lives to do whatever He wishes to accomplish in and through us. He doesn't tell the disciples that He just wants them to suffer, but He uses their suffering to turn the world to Him. Look at what the disciples went through before they ended up in heaven forever. Some were crucified, one boiled, some beheaded, others went to strange nations that were not their own to find death. Missionaries through out history have suffered sickness, death, discouragement and persecution and God used every bit of their suffering to love the world back to Himself. Suffering is never wasted by God. It can be used to tell of God's greatness to people who do not know God or to people who do. It can be used to bring us back in reliance to Him. Suffering is good in the hands of God.

    I know those are not words of comfort if you are struggling, but my hope is to turn your eyes to Jesus through your suffering and not see the hurt you are dealing with as your finality. I know many of you wish God would just do it a different way, me too! However, since sin entered the world, suffering has had its way. God has redeemed suffering by the cross and will end it one day in eternity.

    Before I finish, can I say a few more things to you reading. If you are suffering, please tell someone but not everyone. Not everyone can help or be there through our suffering, but someone can. God has people out there that have been through a similar situation and they can empathize with you. He places us within a group of believers to not only rejoice in Him but share each others burdens. However, His ultimate purpose in suffering is to bring all parties attention back to Him. We need Him and He is enough!

    On the idea that we shouldn't tell everyone, I see a horrible trend that we "Facebook" or "twitter" our suffering or struggles. I have been guilty of this. I have been guilty of not allowing God to finish the work or use my suffering before I put it all over social media. I make God look weak or not loving by openly questioning Him or my situation. Although He is big enough to overcome our being weak, many people outside of the church might not be able to. I fear we sound like a bunch of baby brats with our ramblings on Facebook. I have been guilty of ranting and begging Facebook or twitter for help, but maybe its better to do that directly to God and then to our immediate friends. Since we have a God that is in control and is so satisfying, let us show the world that truth. I am not saying to act like everything is okay, maybe just keep your fingers off the computer when it isn't. Find God and your friends (not Facebook friends)!

    Finally, our suffering can be a result of shooting ourselves. Sometimes we suffering because of our sin. Maybe we didn't use self control or did something that put us in a hurt locker! Own it and run to God. He is the only One that relieve that suffering. Remember the promise of 1 John 1:9! He is faithful to not only forgive but clean the mess that we created. If you are suffering because you blew it, apologize and sit in His lap. He will comfort but then begin the work to clean the mess up you created. Sometimes He does that by kneeling down and cleaning the mess up with us, but that is another writing for another time!

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