“If God doesn’t discipline you as He does all of His children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really His children.” (Hebrews 12:8 NLT)
Today and tomorrow, I’d like for us to look at three reasons why God allows His children to suffer. But before we do, I’m compelled to address another related concern. There are many more reasons people suffer, even believers, than the three I’m addressing. The scope of these posts is to stimulate thought that will, ideally, move us closer to the Lord.
I’m not qualified to address the vile and evil things that people endure in our world, things I can’t even imagine. Hunger, hardship, slavery, poverty, and on and on. These are not caused by God, but they grieve His heart. His original intention was to let us walk in perfect harmony with Him and one another. There was no injustice or suffering of any kind in the Garden of God’s original design.
Then sin entered the picture, and because God gave us free will, He limits His own control over us and will not demand we obey Him. The abominations that we human beings commit against one another will one day end. The perpetrators will face an eternity in hell, but those who place their hope and trust in Jesus will be returned to the environment of perfect peace and harmony that existed in the beginning. Until then, our only hope is Jesus. He not only gives us peace and grace to deal with the things we must face from day to day, but He also gives us His heart to collectively address the needs of the world.
What I’m talking about in the posts today and tomorrow is for individual believers who are struggling to understand why things happen in their lives that disrupt the flow of their “happiness,” or their plans for themselves. Jesus doesn’t redeem us so we can continue to live self-focused lives. He saves us to become His own, so the focus of our lives will shift from us to Him. But because we’re stubborn and self-willed, sometimes He has to allow sickness or pain to redirect our focus. That’s what I want to address in these posts.
When I think of suffering, my mind immediately turns to Job. Job was fully committed to God in every avenue of his life, yet God gave Satan permission to test him.
One thing before we go any further. As a child of God (see yesterday’s post), NOTHING can enter our lives except it first passes through the filter of God’s permission. What does that mean? It means God has purpose in every detail of our life. If He tests us, He has a reason for it. Also, God never tempts us, but He does test us.
The first reason God tests us is to discipline us.
Hebrews 12 speaks about God’s discipline and in verse 7 says: “As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as His own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father?”
In verse 6 the writer quotes from Proverbs 11-12 There are two words used in these verses, both of which are means of correction. One is translated “discipline,” the other is translated “punishment.” Check out my post “Jesus, Our Disciplinarian” for more on this subject. We’ll move on to the second and third reasons God test’s us in tomorrow’s post.
Blessings, Ed 😊