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Does God make use of our suffering, hardship or pain to test, chastise, correct or purify us?
 

God may sometimes make use of our suffering:

a)  to refine our faith by removing the impurities in our lives, as gold and silver are purified by fire. St Peter says, “Be glad about this, even though it may now be necessary for you to be sad for a while because of the many kinds of trials you suffer. Their purpose is to prove that your faith is genuine. Even gold, which can be destroyed, is tested by fire; and so your faith, which is much more precious than gold, must also be tested, so that it may endure. Then you will receive praise and glory and honour on the Day when Jesus Christ is revealed.”(1 Peter 1:6-7 TEV) With faith the human spirit often comes through the crucible of suffering refined and purified.

 

b)  to strengthen our faith as God desires to make our faith strong. This is what God was doing when He made Abraham wait 25 years for a child. St Paul says, “Abraham believed and hoped, even when there was no reason for hoping, and so became the father of many nations. Just as the Scripture says, Your descendants will be as many as the stars. He was then almost one hundred years old, but his faith did not weaken when he thought of his body, which was already practically dead, or of the fact that Sarah could not have children. His faith did not leave him, and he did not doubt Gods promise, his faith filled him with power, and he gave praise to God. He was absolutely sure that God would be able to do what He had promised.” (Romans 4:18-21 TEV)

 

c)  to chastise or correct us. St Paul reminded the Hebrews, “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons, for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?” (Hebrews 12:5-7 NKJV) Moses reminded the people of Israel, “You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the Lord your God chastens you.” (Deuteronomy 8:5 NKJV) God reminded us, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.”(Revelation 3:19 NKJV) We know that the goal of a father in chastening his son is for his sons ultimate happiness. Happiness is also Gods desire for us when He chastens us.

 

d)  to purify us to bear more fruit. Jesus says to His disciples that although they are as intimately related to Him as braches to the vine, they still need to be pruned in order to bear more fruit: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:1-2 TEV) Pruning means cutting, reshaping, removing what diminishes usefulness and the pruning hands of God purify our hearts for deeper love, stronger hope, and broader faith.

 

e)  to test our faith in Him as recorded in Genesis,  “Sometime later God tested Abraham, He called to him, ‘Abraham!’ And Abraham answered, ‘Yes, here I am!’ ‘Take your son,’ God said, ‘your only son, Isaac, whom you love so much, and go to the land of Moriah. There on a mountain that I will show you, offer him as a sacrifice to Me.’” (Genesis 22:1-2 TEV) Isaiah said to the people of Israel that God has said, “I have tested you in the fire of suffering, as silver is refined in a furnace.” (Isaiah 48:10 TEV)
      But, will we be tested beyond our means to endure?  We will not as St Peter says, “My dear friends do not be surprised at the painful test you are suffering, as though something unusual were happening to you. Rather be glad that you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may be full of joy when His glory is revealed.”(1 Peter 4:12-13 TEV) St Paul says, “Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps His promise, and He will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, He will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out.”(1 Corinthians 10:13 TEV) Do we believe that? If we do, we will have the power to go through the tests. During the test, it is important for us to keep repeating and believing what St Paul says, “I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.” (Philippians 4:13 TEV) And what does Christ give us? “God has given us a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind"(2 Timothy 1:7 TEV). We need to learn to befriend our suffering by sharing it with a trusted friend and to step over our suffering so that we can move on in our lives. We don’t want to be stuck in our suffering, living as the wounded one and always complaining that life isn’t fair.

 

      So, will we have the strength to endure the pain and suffering? Yes provided we ask God for it and believe that God will give it to us. Often, “It is because you do not pray that you do not receive;”(James 4:2 NJB) But when we pray, we are not to doubt at all, as St James says, “But when you pray, you must believe and not doubt at all. Whoever doubts is like a wave in the sea that is driven and blown about in the wind. If you are like that, unable to make up your mind and undecided in all you do, you must not think that you will receive anything from the Lord.” (James 1:6-8 TEV) Even when we pray we have to pray devotedly and fervently and not with wrong motives, for: “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:3 NIV) It is vitally important that when we ask we must believe, as Jesus says, When you pray and ask for something, believe that you have received it, and you will be given whatever you ask for.(Mark 11:24 TEV) Again, Jesus reminded us, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” (Mark 9:23 NKJV) We should also ask the church elders to pray for us: “Are any among you sick? They should send for the church elders, who will pray for them and rub olive oil on them in the name of the Lord. This prayer made in faith will heal the sick. . . .The prayer of a good person has a powerful effect.” (James 5:14-16 TEV) St John says, “Our fearlessness towards Him consists in this, that if we ask anything in accordance with His will He hears us. And if we know that He listens to whatever we ask Him, we know that we already possess whatever we have asked of Him.”(1 John 5:14-15 NJB) God promises us that He will strengthen us as, "those who trust in the Lord for help will find their strength renewed. They will rise on wings like eagles; they will run and not get weary; they will walk and not grow weak.” (Isaiah 40:31 TEV)  “We can be certain that God will keep His promise” (1 John 1:9 TEV). So "Be strong and of good courage; Do not be afraid nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."(Joshua 1:9 NKJV) Therefore, we must have strong faith in Gods Word for Jesus to work His miracle of supporting and carrying us through the suffering and adversity.
 

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