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Rooted in God's Word; Empowered by God's Spirit; Engaged in God's World.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

If God, Why do I Suffer so Much?

While at a community Bible study, Rogério, who can neither walk nor talk, motioned to me that he would like a pen and paper. He made notes from all that was being taught and then wrote ‘If God, why do I suffer so much?’ As we minister to those most marginalised in Mozambique we are confronted daily with suffering. We can’t help but ask why some people suffer so much. The disciples in John 9 thought they understood why the man was born blind, however, Jesus explained that ‘it was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God may be displayed in him’. John Piper contends that sin in the world is the cause of suffering in the world, but specific sins in the world are usually not the cause of specific sufferings. Often we look back and are keen to know the cause, however, Jesus points us to future purpose; 'so that the works of God might be displayed' (John 9v3).

Consider the lives of Job, the song writer George Matheson or Corrie Ten Boom … and you can add to the list! Each one suffering in ways we cannot begin to imagine, however, out of their deepest pain has come the strong conviction of the presence and love of God. This brings us much comfort and strength for our own journey.

OMS founders, Charles and Lettie Cowman, served their Saviour passionately and mobilised hundreds to give themselves for the furtherance of the Gospel. They saw God do great things. Then, suddenly, Charles was stricken with poor health. They had to return home and were unable to continue in their prominent leadership roles. They were left asking why?  They believed whole-heartedly that God would heal him and yet over time his health continued to deteriorate. Through this time, Lettie penned the world-renowned devotional 'Streams in the Desert’ offering comfort and encouragement for almost a century. Lettie's journal for the last months of Charles’ life was uncovered many years later and then compiled into the book entitled ‘The Story Behind Streams in the Desert’.  As a caring, devoted wife, she describes her bewilderment at God's delay in healing her beloved husband.  Eventually she came to accept that something greater than healing was being accomplished.  Through this crucible of suffering, she said that 'the waiting time is a training time' and that 'more is being planned for by God than has been prayed for by us.’ 'I know nothing of what God is doing, but He does and I rest in Him' and 'I'd rather walk in the dark with God than go alone in the light’.  Through much anguish and struggle, their faith was being fortified and their only option was to rely completely on Him.

While on earth we won’t fully understand but we know that the life of Jesus is the supreme source of comfort for the suffering and we have the sure hope that those who know Him will one day be completely free of suffering. Christ deals with our pain. Praise His name.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
and feel the promise is not vain,
that morn shall tearless be.

O cross that lifts up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
and from the ground there blossoms red
life that endless be.

‘Pain is for a moment. The life Jesus offers is endless.’ Lord, help us bring this hope in Word and deed to a suffering world.

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