A Matter Of Perspective

A Matter Of Perspective

For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines.
–Hebrews 12:6

A British newspaper reportedly sent out an inquiry to famous writers, asking, “What’s wrong with the world today?” G. K. Chesterton responded, “Dear Sir, I am. Yours, G. K. Chesterton.” The fact is, much of the suffering we experience is either because of what other people do to us, or what we do to ourselves. Philip Yancey wrote, “The Bible traces the entrance of suffering and evil into the world to the grand but terrible quality of human freedom.” Suffering is the price we pay for the freedom to choose between good and evil.

Sometimes our wrong choices result in God’s judgment against us. In Deuteronomy 28:15, God gave the Israelites this warning: “It shall come about, if you do not obey the Lord your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you.” In other words, “If you do not do what I command you to do, then I am going to judge you.” God judges us as well–not because He hates us, but as the Bible says, “for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines” (Hebrews 12:6). Some of the suffering we experience is simply a result of natural laws that God has placed in effect. When people get sick, it may be because of a poor diet or a failure to exercise. When people experience financial hardship, it may be because they were spending more than they earned. When people experience the pain of a broken marriage, it may be because they failed to invest in that relationship.

Nevertheless, sometimes things enter our lives that are not a part of our wrong choices. Why would God allow these evil things to come into our lives? The Bible says that God uses short-term suffering to accomplish long-term good. Let me share a famous analogy: A hunter sees a bear that is caught in a bear trap. The bear is hurting, and the hunter desires to release him from the trap. So he shoots the bear with a dart filled with sedatives. When the bear feels those darts hitting him, he believes that the hunter must be up to no good. Then the hunter takes the bear’s paw and actually pushes it farther into the trap, trying to release the tension of the spring. Yet that increases the pain, so the bear is convinced that the hunter is trying to harm him. But the bear has judged the situation prematurely. If he would wait just a little longer, he would understand what the hunter is up to. The same thing is true in our relationship with God. Every dart of adversity we feel, every push deeper into the jaws of suffering, convinces us that God is up to no good in our lives. The problem is, we are judging God prematurely. If we would simply wait, we would understand what God is up to in our lives. Suffering is a matter of perspective.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Healing Words For Hurting Hearts” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.

G. K. Chesterton, as quoted in “What’s Wrong With The World?” The Society of Gilbert Keith Chesterton, April 29, 2012, https://www.chesterton.org/wrong-with-world/; Philip Yancey, “Where Is God When It Hurts?” (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1990), 66.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.