The Wisdom of God
In this suffering that the Lord allows for his children, He does not fully reveal to us the why's or the how's and that is where real faith comes in.
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD."
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isa.55:8-9)
It is according to the Lord's infinite wisdom that He interacts with his children.
"From where then does wisdom come? And where is the place of understanding? It is hidden from the eyes of all living, and concealed from the birds of the air. Destruction and Death say, 'We have heard a report about it with our ears.' God understands its way, and He knows its place. For He looks to the ends of the earth, and sees under the whole heavens." (Job 28:20-24)
Gods ways are "unsearchable." We cannot always see or comprehend Gods purpose, but with the eyes of faith we can come to understand the things of heaven being done in our lives on earth. We can learn of Him to handle to details of our lives effectively.
"O "LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; you understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O LORD, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I (in and of myself) cannot attain it." (Psalm139:1-6)
"Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable." (Isa. 40:28)
"The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law." (Deut. 29:29)
God will only reveal so much to us here on earth, He does not let us have an intimate full knowledge of His ways. What we may not understand now will be better understood later in His presence in eternity in heaven. Then we will be liberated from and unhindered by our sinful flesh. A name of the Lord's in Isa. 9:6 is "wonderful" (Heb. pele), a word used exclusively of God alone, it means "unable to comprehend, indescribable." Yet we know from the words of the Bible that He is a God of perfection, in love and mercy as well as justice.
On earth we are God's children, now being conformed to Christ's likeness through suffering. It is the potter's hand putting pressure on us as the clay. If there is no pressure there is no learning. Christ called us to sacrifice and die to our self-life in our lives as He lived not by His will but that of the Father's will. This is to be our daily basis of training. He's given us his example of being completed through His own God-ordained process of suffering, both in His life and while at the cross (cf., Heb 5:8).
We find consistently throughout the scriptures that those who live godly are not promised prosperity and health or are kept from suffering. Yet there is a purpose in it that we may know now. But we know there is a reward of co-reigning with Him in heaven... if we submit and yield to Him in our trials (cf., 2Tim 2:12). Our trials are custom made by God for us as individuals, whom He knows so well. He knows our history and our thoughts that are often framed by our experiences - good or bad. The potter puts pressure to the clay to make it anew. If the clay is soft and pliable in the Potter's hands it becomes an easier task. If the clay is hardened it becomes more difficult. It may not be pleasant and it may make us be uncomfortable for a time, but it's how we go through it that counts.
David knew the usefulness of suffering reflecting back on all he went through he wrote; "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep thy word." "75In your faithfulness you have afflicted me." (Psalm 119:67, 75) David attributed his affliction to Gods hand not the Devil's. We need to understand that if we are afflicted, or go through a trial that may be extremely long, that God is not angry with us, We know that "now therefore there is now therefore no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). Even if it is for chastisement that we are under, it's out of love and His purpose in it is always for our good.
"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation (Gk. thlipsis,pressure); but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
Times of affliction are temporary even if they last a lifetime; they are short in comparison to eternity when they will be removed.
Paul gives us a formula for peace in our hearts when we are anxious over our suffering situations. He says we should pray and give it over to the Lord until we come to have the sense of His peace and also what we should set our minds on. He does not say we will get what we pray for.
"Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there beany praise, think on these things." (Philippians 4:6-8)
To go through the fires of affliction we must focus on the Lord that so He can make us strong in the midst of trial. We don't focus on our trial because that makes us weak. What you "look at" takes hold of you. If you look to the Lord and He will "take hold of you" and carry you through. God will then be glorified and we will through it come know Him in a more intimate way! Its by suffering that God's glory (expression) is brought out in us. God is glorified when your sick or handicapped, not just when you are well. I can honestly say, He is more glorified in those who are not healthy, then those who are healthy. The model of Job's life proves this as well as that of Paul, "the Apostle to the Gentiles."
Trials can be a witness of our faith to others. Faith grows in the soil of adversity. If we've learned to trust Him in all things then the more life throws at you, the greater the amount of fruit that will be produced. We receive spiritual blessings through our buffeting, although at the time it may produce discomfort and anguish.
Charles Spurgeon said "Through our trials God is slowly weaning us from this earth for the world beyond." The Lord is purging us from something very real and offensive to Him - our independent attitude is sinful and offensive, as if to say "I don't need you God." You are not the Christians, only "Christ in you" is the Christian. Sufferings don't make us perfect but they humble us, turn us to Him, implant faith in us, and give us a taste of the rest we will enjoy eternally in our final home, "eternal in the heavens" (2Cor 5:1b).
True comfort is found not in knowing why we suffer, but in knowing Him, the One who truly understands our pain. We can't know all the why's right now. As so often said, our lives are like the back of a tapestry; when viewed from behind it is unrecognizable. This is our perspective from earth. But looked at from the front, which is Gods views, we can see exactly what He is weaving and it makes perfect sense.
Trials will have us either draw closer to the Lord or may move us away. We have two choices in it. We can get bitter by our questioning God about his design or get better by trusting Him through it all. It can be distressing but when we trust Him it yields peace to us in our hearts.
As our trials become deeper so does the well we draw from for our sustenance. Hebrews 11 gives us a sequential list of those who overcame this world "by faith," saying again and again; By faith Abraham, by faith Sarah, by faith Isaac, by faith Jacob, by faith Joseph, by faith Moses.
Paul was called to suffer in his Christian life and used his scourging as proof of his call to apostleship. When Paul was called in Acts 9 the first thing said after he was chosen to be sent was that he would learn what it is to "suffer for my (Christ's) names sake" (Acts 9:16).