Seasons of Suffering

As a Christian expect seasons of suffering. Although God allows suffering in our lives, 

I know one thing, He is in control. God is omniscient––all knowing. So I have to trust that God knows what He is doing. My wife Sharon has cancer, she has endured 13 years of suffering. For over 15 years, I have suffered from wartime injury episodes. I do not lose consciousness, but I cannot speak. It is really embarrassing when I am giving a message. When I continue to try to speak, I either mumble words or revert to speaking Spanish. When this happens another pastor finishes the service. The people in the congregation are so patient and gracious.

Paul the apostle had an infirmity that God allowed. He was kept humble by it. Even when he prayed for healing, God told him that His grace was sufficient. Paul personally experienced the power of God resting upon his life (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). Paul’s words have become an incredible testimony for my own life. I have accepted God’s grace, and surrendered to whatever God has for me. His grace is sufficient. 

Despite my suffering, just like PaulI reach . . . forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:13-14). As a pastor, I press onward because I still have the same burning passion in my heart to reach the lost. It has never changed over the years. I desire to finish the mission given to me by the Lord, and to hear Him say:“Well done, good and faithful servant  . . .” (Matthew 25:21). God still has a purpose for my life and that is why I am still here. When my time is finished, I will go home. I want to be with Jesus. 

God always devises a plan to use a person’s suffering for His glory. When nonbelievers witness a Christian’s distress, they not only see the marks of their suffering, but they also observe their peace and joy in the midst of their trials. This causes them to want to know God for themselves. Suffering causes us to become a greater witness of the Gospel of Christ. Our experiences help us to become more effective in our ministry to others. Suffering produces a real depth to our character and brings about a deeper commitment to Jesus Christ.  As ministers of the Gospel, we have hope and joy knowing all things work together for God’s glory (Romans 8:28). 

Paul recorded a long list of his sufferings. Enduring his trials, he knew, he was never alone.  Almighty God was always with him! God allowed all these trials in Paul’s life to bring Him glory: 

…in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches (2 Corinthians 11:23-28). 

Are you enduring a season of suffering? You may not always understand the mind of God, I still find it hard at times to know His mind, but we must together trust the Lord through the fire of our affliction. God sees the bigger picture. His plans are working things out for the best in our lives. So keep pressing onward!

Raul Ries