God's Divine Purpose for Adversity, Affliction, and Suffering
There seems to be a great number of people who are suffering on various levels and for various reasons today. So often, we want to point fingers and lay blame on them for their suffering. Remember how Job’s friends in the Bible accused him of some wrong doing as the reason for his adversity when it was Satan who had negotiated a deal with God to strike Job with suffering and affliction? As a matter of fact, God volunteered Job for this assignment. Consider the following verses from Job 1 6-:8(NASB).
6 “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. 7 The LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” 8 The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”
You may wonder, “Why would God volunteer Job for such magnitude of suffering and affliction?” Actually, God answers that very question in the latter part of verse 8 when He so eloquently paints a picture of Job’s character and Job’s relationship with Him.
This leads me to believe that we must be very careful when we begin to counsel or give advice to those that are suffering affliction or adversity. Could it be that they have been chosen by God for such an assignment of adversity because God knows He can trust them to remain faithful to Him? Could it be that others who are watching them need to see that they will not turn away from God even when all of their wealth is gone? Could it be that God wants to reveal His glory as demonstrated in Job 42: 10 and 12 where the Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the LORD increased all that Job had twofold and blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning?
Examine your relationship with God. How would He describe you and your relationship with Him to Satan? Are you serving Him and Him alone? Do you fear God and seek to do that which is good and pleasing in His sight? Are you upright, of a good report, and full of integrity?
We like to think that if we are all of the above things then surely nothing bad will ever happen to us; that bad things only happen to bad people. How many times have you heard the question asked, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” I would surmise to say that God has a divine purpose for the adversity that He allows to come your way. The words suffering, sorrow, adversity, trouble, and affliction are used synonymously in the Bible. So let’s look at some key points that the Word of God reveal about God’s divine purpose for adversity.
Psalm 119:71(KJV) “It is good for me that I have been afflicted that I might learn thy statutes.” Suffering has a way of bringing us into a more intimate relationship with God, our Father, where we become totally dependent upon Him, giving Him first place in every area of our lives. Once we have established intimacy with Him, He has our undivided attention and begins to reveal things unto us for our good through His statutes.
Romans 8:18(KJV) “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which SHALL be revealed in us.” Whatever we suffer now is but a faded, distant memory when God reveals His glory in us. There is no comparison of the two. Are you willing to trade Him your suffering for His glory? Don’t despise the affliction, but allow God to work through the affliction to reveal His glory in you.
II Corinthians 4:17(NIV) “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” The affliction is temporary and light, even though it may not feel like it at the time. Yet, there is no comparison to the eternal glory that afflictions produce.
Therefore, when it comes to adversity, let us go before God our Father with the same resolve as King Jehoshaphat did in II Chronicles 20:9(NIV) knowing that God is able to deliver us (Psalm 34:19KJV “Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.”). “If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in Your presence before this temple that bears Your Name and will cry out to You in our distress, and You will hear us and save us.” Rest assured knowing that God has a divine purpose for the adversity that He allows to come your way.