To the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.
–1 Peter 4:13
God’s purpose for your life requires some suffering. He is molding you to be more like Jesus Christ and hammering away those things in your life that are not like Him. But one day God’s purpose for your life will be ultimately realized. There will be a day when the renovation of your life is completed, and you will be able to see the finished project. When will that day be? Philippians 1:6 says, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Not until we see Christ face to face will we be able to look back and see how God caused all things to work together for good.
Several years ago when I was pastoring in Wichita Falls, Texas, I came back to Dallas for a funeral service. I had been on staff at First Baptist Dallas two decades earlier, and a number of other former staff members were there at the service. When it was over, we started reminiscing about the days when we had served at the church. Now that had not been a happy time in the church. There had been some difficult things going on. But as we told story after story, we began to laugh. We laughed so hard some of us were crying. At the time, those things had seemed anything but funny, but now we had a different perspective. We saw how God used those things in our own lives in ministry.
The Bible says there is a time when we will rejoice over our suffering. In 1 Peter 4:12-13, the apostle said, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.” When are we going to rejoice with exultation at all of the suffering we are experiencing? Not until we see Christ. Then the Bible promises we will be able to look at all of life’s difficulties, even those we do not now understand, and laugh until we cry.
Until that time, much of the suffering we experience will be beyond our comprehension. And that is why it is so important not to offer pat answers to people about their suffering. We cannot answer for God. Remember Job’s experience? He had three friends who tried to explain to him why certain things were happening to him. Finally in Job 42:7, God said to these three friends, “You have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has.” He was saying, “You have it all wrong. You do not have a clue about why I did what I did.” You see, God never gave an explanation of Job’s suffering to Job or to his friends. All God said to them was, in essence, “Trust Me; I know what I am doing.” And that is what He says to us. When we are experiencing suffering, we may not understand it, but we are to trust that God knows what He is doing.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Healing Words For Hurting Hearts” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.
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.