Friday, August 26, 2011

Why Doesn't God Prevent His Children From Suffering? -Part 4

There is a fifth reason why God’s children suffer, and that seems to be some lofty purpose of God that He does not always reveal to the believer. Job is an example of this. I am inclined to believe that Job wrote the book that bears his name, and I wonder if Job was made to suffer, not because there was anything wrong in his life, but because Satan had made a spurious remark, an accusation against him and God. In substance, Satan’s charge was, “Job is serving You only for what he can get out of it. If You let me get to him, I’ll show You. He’ll turn against You. He’ll curse You to Your face!” So God then took down the hedge He had around Job and let Satan move in. And, as this man suffered, he demonstrated that he was no paid lover — Job didn’t love God for what he could get out of it. He was really genuine.

Also God said a strange thing about Paul the apostle when he was converted. He said He was going to make him a missionary to the Gentiles, then He said, “For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake” (Acts 9:16). While it is true that Paul suffered for sins in his life before his conversion and he reaped what he had sown, he also suffered immeasurably in his life as a missionary. He details this in his second letter to the Corinthians:  …In labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes, save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. (2 Corinthians 1:23–28).  He suffered so that no one can say, “Well, nobody has ever suffered as I’ve suffered.” Paul has experienced the limit, friend. You and I never have suffered as much as he has. He is to stand as a witness to that for every child of God.

Now we come to the sixth reason Christians suffer. Some believers suffer for their faith in a heroic manner.

Who, through faith, subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again.… (Hebrews 11:33–35)

Here is a group of people who, by faith, gained great victories for God. This is wonderful. And, friend, it is wonderful to be able to say, “I’ve been healed.” No one knows how happy I’ve been to be able to say that. But there are some who haven’t been able to say that. In the middle of verse 35 we are introduced to another company. Notice what we are told about them.… And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover,
of bonds and imprisonment; they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tested, were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins;  being destitute, afflicted, tormented (of whom the world was not worthy); they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.  (Hebrews 11:35–38)

Now this is a strange thing. We first saw a group of people who by faith escaped the edge of the sword. Then here is another group of people who were slain by the sword, and both acted by faith. Frankly, I don’t even propose to reconcile the two. There are some folk whom God permits to suffer — you have known saints like this. I rather think they are His choice saints. James and Peter, you recall, were arrested by old Herod. Herod took James and put him to death. Peter he put in prison, but God got him out. Is the Lord playing favorites? No, He is not. James could endure martyrdom; Peter could not at that time. Later on he was a martyr also, but not then. He was growing in grace. It is my opinion that God does not permit some Christians to suffer for the simple reason that they can’t take it. God lets one group escape the edge of the sword, and they do it by faith. But I don’t think they had quite as much faith as the other group.

Thru the Bible by Dr. J. Vernon McGee

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