Saturday, September 30, 2017

Can any good come from suffering?

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.” –Helen Keller

The Apostle Paul and Silas shared the gospel anywhere and everywhere they went.  Sometimes they were received well, and many times they were not, yet they persisted to do what God called them to.  In Acts 16, an angry mob beat Paul and Silas and threw them in a prison.  They were bruised, bloodied, starving and dehydrated while sitting in chains in a dark prison cell.

This set of circumstances would have crushed most people, but Paul and Silas began to pray and sing songs to God.  Instead of worrying, they worshipped God.  That night God rescued them by way of an earthquake that opened the prison doors and loosened their chains.  In an amazing turn of events, the jailer went from contemplating suicide to asking them what he needed to do to be saved; from that point he believed in Jesus, led his whole family to getting baptized, washed the wounds of and prepared a meal for Paul and Silas to be on their way.

Only God can save like this!  However, the point of this story isn’t just that God saved Paul and Silas when they worshipped Him through a difficult time, but also that the jailer was watching them worship and it changed his life.  He must have wondered, “How can they worship their God when they’re going through hell?  There’s something different about them. They have got something that I don’t have and I need it.”

Here’s a takeaway: oftentimes our trials can illuminate Jesus to others more so than our triumphs. When we experience sufferings, people will be watching us, and it’s important that we respond in a Christ-like way.  This isn’t to say we should suppress our negative feelings in any way, because we should healthily go through our grief.  My point is that we should choose to worship God in spite of our circumstances, and also tell others of God’s goodness and faithfulness in our lives, so that they too can come to know a saving faith in Jesus.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope (Romans 5:3-4, ESV).

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