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Scripture on God's Purpose in Our Sufferings
All the passages below are taken from Joni Eareckson Tada’s book, “A Lifetime of Wisdom---Embracing the Way God Heals You,” which was published in 2009.
Discovering God's hand in hardship is really a discovery of God's Word. The following verses underscore a few of the benefits derived from our pain and problems. These power-packed passages serve as a lens through which we may gain a clearer perspective on our afflictions.
Suffering is used to increase our awareness of the sustaining power of God to whom we owe our sustenance.
Psalm 68:19: Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.(NIV)
God uses suffering to refine, perfect, strengthen, and keep us from falling.
Psalm 66:8-9: Praise our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard; he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping.
Hebrews 2:10: In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.
Suffering allows the life of Christ to be manifested in our mortal flesh.
2 Corinthian, 4:7-1l: But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.
Suffering bankrupts us, making us dependent on God.
2 Corinthians 12:9: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
Suffering teaches us humility.
2 Corinthians 12:7: To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.
Suffering imparts the mind of Christ.
Philippians 2:1-11: If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death---even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Suffering teaches us that God is more concerned with character than comfort.
Romans 5:3-4: Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Hebrews 12:10-11: Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Suffering teaches us that the greatest good of the Christian life is not absence of pain but Christ-likeness.
2 Corinthians 4:8-10: We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
Romans 8:28-29: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
Suffering can be a chastisement from God for sin and rebellion.
Psalm 107:17: Some become fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.
Obedience and self-control is learned from suffering.
Hebrews 5:8: Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered.
Psalm 119:67: Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.
Romans 5:1-5: Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
James 1:2-8: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
Philippians 3:10: I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.
Voluntary suffering is one way to demonstrate the love of God.
2 Corinthians 8:1-2, 9: And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity ... For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
Suffering is part of the struggle against sin.
Hebrews 12:4-13: In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. "Make level paths for your feet," so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
Suffering is part of the struggle against evil men.
Psalm 27:12: Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing out violence.
Psalm 37:14-15: The wicked draw the sword and bend the bow to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose ways are upright. But their swords will pierce their own hearts, and their bows will be broken.
Suffering is part of the struggle for the kingdom of God.
2 Thessalonians 1:5: All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.
Suffering is part of the struggle for the Gospel.
2 Timothy 2:8-9: This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God's word is not chained.
Suffering is part of the struggle against injustice.
1 Peter 2:19: For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.
Suffering is part of the struggle for the name of Christ.
Acts 5:41: The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.
1 Peter 4:14: If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
Suffering indicates how the righteous become sharers in Christ's suffering.
2 Corinthians 1:5: For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.
1 Peter 4:12-13: Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
Endurance of suffering is given as a cause for reward.
2 Corinthians 4:17: For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
2 Timothy 2:12: If we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us.
Suffering forces community and the administration of our gifts for the common good.
Philippians 4:12-15: I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only.
Suffering binds Christians together into a common or joint purpose.
Revelation 1:9: I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
Suffering produces discernment, knowledge, and teaches us God's statutes.
Psalm 119:66-67, 71: Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I believe in your commands. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word. . . . It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.
Through suffering, God is able to obtain our broken and contrite spirit, which he desires.
Psalm 51:16-17: You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, 0 God, you will not despise.
Suffering causes us to discipline our minds by making us focus our hope on the grace to be revealed at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:6, 13: In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials ... Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.
God uses suffering to humble us so he can exalt us at the proper time.
1 Peter 5:6-7: Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Suffering teaches us to number our days so we can present to God a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:7-12: We are consumed by your anger and terrified by your indignation. You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan. The length of our days is seventy years---or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. Who knows the power of your anger? For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you. Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Suffering is sometimes necessary to win the lost.
2 Timothy 2:8-10: Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God's word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.
2 Timothy 4:5-6: But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure.
Suffering strengthens and allows us to comfort others who are weak.
2 Corinthians 1:3-11: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all Comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
Suffering is small compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ.
Philippians 3:8: What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.
God desires truth in our innermost being, and one way he does it is through suffering.
Psalm 51:6: Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.
Psalm 119:17: Do good to your servant, and I will live; I will obey your word.
The equity for suffering will be found in the next life.
Psalm 58:10-11: The righteous will be glad when they are avenged, when they bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked. Then men will say, "Surely the righteous still are rewarded; surely there is a God who judges the earth."
Suffering is always coupled with a greater source of grace.
2 Timothy 1:7-8: For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.
2 Timothy 4:16-18: At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion's mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Suffering teaches us to give thanks in times of sorrow.
1 Thessalonians 5:18: Give thanks in all circumstances.
2 Corinthians 1:11: Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
Suffering increases faith.
Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Suffering allows God to manifest his care.
Psalm 56:8: Record my lament; list my tears on your scroll---are they not in your record?
Suffering stretches our hope.
Job 13:14-15: Why do I put myself in jeopardy and take my life in my hands? Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face. [221-230]
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