What Examples Does God's Word Give Us About Trials, Suffering and Disabilities?
Today I want to share a few scriptures with you guys from the Word of God about trials, suffering and disability. In the Word of God there were all types of people who suffered and there were all kinds of different reasons for their suffering. Almost always, these people didn't know the reason behind their suffering on earth. Studying these stories can give us hope that there's always a greater purpose in our pain, even if we can't see it in the natural.
Let's start with.......
James 1:2-4 (NIV)
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
I don't know about you guys but I haven't reached the point of counting my trials pure joy yet. Although, this scripture has given me a hope in knowing that when trials come that my faith is being tested. My trials are producing perseverance and a maturity inside of me. So why would God need to test our faith? The testing of our faith has positive effects in our hearts. As we endure trials it produces things inside of us that are good. We receive a maturity that we wouldn't have gained in any other way. If we are never in a position where things are out of our control, we would never be able to exercise our faith, and we would never grow into complete maturity.
Let's look at this next verse............
1 Peter 1:6-7 (NIV)
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
In this verse, we once again see that suffering, grief and trials come to test our faith that it may refine us like gold. Trials put us through the painful refiners fire, pulling out our impurities. This sanctifies us and, ultimately, makes us more like Christ. Peter says this will result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Here are a few examples of suffering, sickness and disabilities in the bible and the purpose that the Bible gives for each........
John 9:1-3,6,7 (NIV)
Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind:
As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him..............
After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing......
This verse tells me that this man had a disability from birth. Jesus tells his disciples that his blindness wasn't a form of punishment from sin but so the works of God may be displayed in him. I would think that the whole time this man was growing up that his parents didn't know the reason God had allowed him to be blind. They probably prayed for years for their son's healing. I'm sure they had taken their son to the temple to be prayed over. I wonder if they felt disappointment and failure when their son's healing never come? I wonder if they felt like their faith wasn't enough? I can only imagine all the people who prayed healing for this boy to no avail. I know, in my own experience, I have prayed and fasted for my illness to be lifted, but it hasn't. I've had the elders of the church to lay hands and pray healing over me on several occasions, also to no avail. Sometimes I believe we want so badly to be out of the trial that we forget that there may be purpose in it. We miss seeing the good that God may be producing from the trial. It seems to me that being blind was the will of the Father for this man's life at the time. No amount of prayer or laying on of hands was going to change God's perfect timing for this man's healing. This was the day that breakthrough and a miracle came so that this man who was blind could now see. This is the day we are still talking about centuries later, the day that displayed the works of God. After twenty or thirty years of blindness, God's perfect timing finally came and His glory was shown for all to see. This man's healing came when it was supposed to. God is completely sovereign and is in complete control of our lives. He knows His perfect timing for everything that he has purposed under the sun. While we are in the waiting, I know how hard it is to imagine that a good God could allow us or a loved one to suffer. Trust me, I just wrote a whole blog entry on lamenting, grieving and anger. I've definitely done my fair share of crying out and asking questions. But I've also come to realize, this short time that we have on earth isn't completely about us. We were made for his purpose and glory. He knows what's best for us even if it looks devastating. We can trust that he will turn all things for good for those of us who love him. This scripture reminds me not to ever stop praying and to never give up on God's healing power, no matter how many years pass. We don't know God's timing and our ways are not His ways. He has a perfect plan and a perfect purpose in all things. This is where we have to rely on Him in the midst of the unknown. This is where He promises that our faith will grow. Right here in this dry and thirsty land. Right here in the middle of our desert, He is doing a great work inside of us.
2 Corinthians 12:6-10 (NIV)
Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “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. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships,in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Paul states here that he could boast of all the great revelations the Lord had given him but he refrained from doing so. He didn't want people to think more highly of him than they should. In order to keep Paul from becoming conceited, he said that he was given a thorn in his flesh. Satan had sent this thorn to torment him. However, the bible never states exactly what the thorn in his flesh was. Although, I think it's probably safe to say it was some form of intense suffering, since it was described in scripture as torment. Paul prayed three times for the Lord to take this torment away. But the Lord didn't take it away. Instead he told Paul that His grace was sufficient for him, and that His power was made perfect in weakness. Wait a minute! So this loving God would allow a messenger of Satan to inflict continuous torment on one of his disciples and not lift it? Yes, scripture says that it was to keep Paul from becoming conceited. There was purpose for God not taking the thorn and it was for Paul's good. Sometimes, I can't imagine in any way that my own illness (that never relents) could be a part of God's plan and goodness for me. However, I do know God's grace is all sufficient for anything that we will ever have to walk through and for us to truly do the work of Christ we cannot be self sufficient. Sometimes our weakness can magnify the Lord's power. When we move our self sufficiency out of the way God can begin to move and our purpose can begin to align with His will. This is when other's can begin to see Him and not us.
Since becoming ill in 2017 I have been on a search for a reason for my own illness. I have found amazing truths in God's word. But the ultimate answer that I have found is that there are many reasons for sickness and suffering throughout God's word. The people in scripture didn't always know the reason behind their infirmity while on earth. While many of us, also, may never know the behind the scenes answer to our suffering, we can trust that God is good. We can continue to grow in faith and reliance, believing he will deliver what he promises. On the other hand, I've also learned more compassion and what it means to just sit and listen to someone else in their suffering. God is teaching me to truly seek Him and the words that the Holy Spirit would have me pray over someone with an illness. To pray with the compassion and love of the Father. Not everyone who is sick has a demon that needs to be cast out. Not everyone who is sick is weak in their faith. Lastly, not everyone who is sick is ill because of some great sin that they haven't repented of. That's why, when I pray, I should really wait for the leading of the Holy Spirit to tell me what needs to be prayed. There is so much damage, hurt and hindrance that I can cause to someone with an illness if I'm not careful. I've made plenty of mistakes in this area and I suppose that's why God is giving me a lesson on them. There's so much for me to learn in this trial. There are gems of everlasting proportions to be found in this desert. Here is where I will grow in faith and maturity. I will learn how to fight spiritually for myself and for others. Right here is where I will see the glory of God.
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