“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, as was necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in much praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 1:6-7).
Catch that statement of Peter, “…as was necessary…”
Consider Jerry Bridges’ remark, “All of us tend to underestimate the remaining sinfulness in our hearts. We fail to see the extent of pride, fleshly self-confidence, selfish ambitions, stubbornness, self-justification, lack of love, and distrust of God that He does see. But adversity brings these sinful dispositions to the surface just as the refiner’s fire brings impurities to the surface of the molten gold…The Word of God and adversity have a synergistic effect as God uses both of them together to bring about growth in our lives that neither the Word nor adversity would accomplish by itself” (Trusting God, 161, 191).
Suffering causes us to ask the ultimate questions: is God good, can He be trusted in this circumstance, is He great enough to use it for good, or is He wise for bringing this conflict into my life, etc.? Thus, suffering reveals what we “really” think about God.
Secondly, suffering shows us what we really think we “need” to be satisfied, joyful, and blessed. You learn the value of things or people in their absence. If you can really live without it, then it was not truly necessary for life.
Thirdly, suffering squeezes sin out of us—sin we did not know was lurking in our souls. There will be no more suffering in heaven, in part, because there will be no sin and no need of sanctification. Suffering is exquisitely useful in the process of sanctification—growth in faith toward God and mortification of sin.
“Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (2 Cor 1:9).
Suffering starves self and that is always good!
Only in the Bible is sense made out of suffering. Suffering reveals what or who we treasure. Then suffering becomes the crucible of change. Through the lens of the cross one finds the truth to trust God in the midst of the storms of life. The person of Jesus and His passion redefine suffering. Now suffering serves our greatest need—the mortification of sin and the magnification of our Savior.
Who or what do you savor in suffering? Do you savor the Savior? Come and enroll in training. Learn to savor the Savior in suffering and to help others do the same.
10,000 Blessings in The Wonderful Counselor,
Rod and Staff Ministries
*Compiled from Semester One: Principles of Biblical Counseling. 2nd Edition. Lesson Three.