Daily Devotion – The Big Picture

Finding Purpose in Suffering

“Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” 2 Kings 6:15-17 NASB

“Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” 2 Kings 6:15-17 NASB

While visiting a friend in the hospital recently, she told me something I have heard over and over again from believers going through difficult times: “I am praying for God to show me the lessons He wants me to learn from this.” I have no doubt that God has lessons for us around every corner if we are willing to listen, and I believe He uses all manner of circumstances to draw us closer to Him if we are obedient. But I also think there is a lot of unintentional arrogance in always looking for the lesson. Before you get mad at me, let me explain that I believe this line of thinking comes from well-intentioned Christians following hard after God. I also think it is narrow-minded to think that everything that happens to us has to do with us, and presumptuous to assume that we can somehow know the mind of God. In Isaiah 55:8, the Lord declares, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”.

To truly find peace, joy and victory in the hard places, I think we need to open ourselves up to the possibility that there could be a million and one reasons for our suffering. It could be a lesson or a deeper relationship with God for us, or someone else may need to see us go through it. We may need to use the experience to help someone else through it down the road. We may need to write about it (speaking to myself here) or someone may need to use it in a sermon illustration. If one person came to a saving knowledge of Jesus due to something we have endured, we have the privilege of participating in the suffering of Christ. We may never know this side of heaven. Or God may choose to give us perspective as he did by opening the eyes of Elisha’s servant in the passage above. One thing we can know, in His great mercy, God never wastes a tear.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Cor. 1:3-4 NASB

“For momentary, light affliction [relatively speaking]*is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,” 2 Cor. 4:17 NASB

*added by me

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