Without hesitation, I can say that God has done His greatest works in my life through seasons of adversity. Sometimes, however, in moments of introspection we wonder, Why all the suffering?
I truly believe that God does far more through suffering than we see at first glance, and perhaps we will never know all the reasons and all the good that He brings through it. But, through His Word, He makes some of His purposes clear to us. In this two-part post, I’d like to highlight seven reasons for adversity:
1. The Glory of God
All of life is to be lived for this purpose. Even in adversity, God desires to be glorified. In fact, it is in these times that we can often best reflect His glory by responding in faith and trust.
“But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified” (1 Peter 4:13-14).
2. The Growth of His Servant
None of us want to attend the school of suffering, but sometimes we’re enrolled without our consent. In this school we learn that we are very weak and desperately need God. At the same time, however, we learn that God’s grace is sufficient and that His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Suffering deepens our lives. And in so doing, it deepens our capacity for ministry. As E.M. Bounds observed, “Preaching is not the performance of an hour. It is the outflow of a life.” I can vouch for that statement. Without a doubt, the greatest lessons of my life have come from the deepest pains.
3. The Fulfillment of God’s Will
Christ Himself could only fulfill the Father’s will through suffering. But even in agony, He prayed, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).
When we walk in circumstantial sunshine, we are quick to embrace the Father’s will. But in dark valleys, we tend to hesitate. In fact, if we’re completely honest, we would admit that there are times we really don’t want God’s will—we are afraid of it. If we could only see the great goodness that God brings about through suffering!
Charles Spurgeon commented, “I am afraid that all the grace that I have got of my comfortable and easy times and happy hours, might almost lie on a penny. But the good that I have received from my sorrows, and pains, and griefs, is altogether incalculable…. Affliction is the best bit of furniture in my house. It is the best book in a minister’s library.”
In suffering, God’s purposes in our lives flourish like at no other times. He is glorified, we grow, and His will for us advances. And in the midst of it all, He promises His presence and comfort to sustain us through the storm.
In part 2 of this post, we’ll see four more reasons God allows adversity…and how He works in and through us during these seasons.