The Bible doesn't sugar-coat suffering. It lays it out before us, even showing us what to expect - that we too will bring indictments against God:
· “Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered. Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever! Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression? For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly clings to the ground. Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!” (Psalms 44:22-26)
While the Bible doesn't endorse our accusations against God, He certainly wants to show us that they are normal. God didn't approve of Job's understandable accusations. Instead, He denounced Job for them:
· “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: 'Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge'?” (Job 38:1-2)
· “Shall a faultfinder [Job] contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it." (Job 40:2)
Job had been suffering so much that we shouldn't be too quick to indict him because of his accusations, but God certainly could and did.
The Psalmists also brought indictments against God and so do we, sometimes against our will. I pray that He remove or at least soften my character defects so that I would not utter what I shouldn't.
However, we also need to know that our suffering serves a very good purpose in the hands of God, who works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). Otherwise, we tend to become overwhelmed by grief.
I am amazed at the life of Paul, arguably the greatest missionary. However, God had made him suffer more than others. He had been beaten on 49 occasions, sometimes even left for dead. On top of that, God allowed Satan to afflict Paul with a thorn in his flesh so that he would not become conceited.
Paul made reference to his shameful affliction:
· “You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 4:13-14)
Evidently, this "bodily ailment" had been so severe and obvious and perhaps even shameful that he thanked the Galatians for putting up with him.
These are the prices we pay when we are given a readiness to serve the Lord fully. It makes me think, "Without such afflictions, would I not become proud?" If Paul would have succumbed, I have little doubt that I too would fall had I not been given my humbling afflictions.
Paul had learned a valuable lesson from his afflictions:
· “But he [God] 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
The road to Christlike-ness is the road of affliction. This is the lesson we need to learn - over and over again! May we all readily accept and even boast in our weaknesses.