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Thursday, June 7, 2007

Suffering

What is your biggest area of concern today? What worries you? What is the thing that has the potential to make you feel doomed, in despair, overwhelmed, or full of sorrow?

I want so much to remind you right now that if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ this area of suffering is the place where God intends to show His glory. God is either using this to hem you in or He’s using it to develop a special area of ministry for you—to encourage other Christians that may be suffering in the same way.

God will use this to draw you closer to Him so He can show you His power, His ability, and His faithfulness. He wants to show you He can and will handle it (once you get your hands off and allow Him to work it all out, trusting in Him, laying it at His feet, and trusting that His way of working it out is perfect). When we give our suffering to the Lord, we must settle in our hearts that whatever God does with it, after we’ve handed it over, is His will and we must believe that God will take care of it. Believe, believe, believe. Never lose confidence because the minute you do, you'll be back there trying to manipulate all the circumstances just right, trying to work it out in your human strength.

This place of suffering may also be an area where God intends to grow a ministry to others through you. I'm sure Joseph would have liked to avoid 14 years in prison in preparation for the ministry God had for him. But he learned things there that were necessary for his future work. I can assure you that no area of suffering in your life will be wasted. It will all be used for God’s glory and your good. Satan will never have the victory in the life of a believer who surrenders her suffering to God. God will always, always turn every situation and circumstance around with Him as the winner, getting the glory. What Satan means for evil, God allows and intends to use for perfection, good, glory, and awesome blessings. Every area of suffering, whether great or small, has the potential to yield the most outrageous testimony, the most amazing story, the most God honoring, glory-giving circumstance if we will persevere in faith, submitted in joyful hope in God, believing even when it looks hopeless that God is working it out in the way that gives Him the most glory and ushers us into the most victorious joyous peace.

Many years ago I was suffering in a tumultuous marriage. Unable to repair the relationship, I finally gave it over to God and actually thanked Him for the struggle, trusting that this was part of His big plan for my life. It had to be His plan, for there was nothing I could do to heal my marriage. As I look back I see that, indeed, it was His plan for now I speak to women on marriage. It's one of the ministries that God developed from that trial. But I had to go through years of suffering and years of mending, healing, and restoration before I was spiritually prepared for this ministry. I can honestly say I wouldn't trade those years for anything—even though I felt that God had surely abandoned me during that time. It wasn't until I completely gave it over to God and said, "Whatever Your will, I accept. Even if my marriage is never restored, I give it over to You. I've tried everything. I quit. I give up. It's Yours now. I'll trust in You and find my satisfaction, my peace, and my need for a husband in You. I choose contentment in my life despite this circumstance." With that act of submission, God did a miracle. My husband and I now teach marriage classes and enjoy a wonderful marriage—better than I had ever dreamed it would be.

Who would have guessed that God was preparing me for a ministry in this area? I believe God is preparing each of us for ministries in many different areas. He intends to use believers to minister to believers. Every believer has hope and comfort to offer another because of their suffering, the issues they have faced. We suffer because God is drawing us near and teaching us to quit depending on our own strength to make everything work out. He intends to help His people through the wisdom He imparts through our times of turmoil.

Trust in Him. Give it to Him. Thank Him for this trial.

In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Thank Him because you believe this circumstance is part of His wonderful plan. It is going to be used for His glory and your good and will ultimately bring peace into your life.

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. 1 Peter 5:8-9

Don't let the enemy devour you while you are suffering. Let God use this for His glory.

You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to be distressed and grieved by various trials and temptations so that the genuineness of your faith­, more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire, may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:6-7


You can be confident that your suffering is not for naught. It will result in an amazing victory. We are promised that it is only for a little while; there will be an end to it. Let go and trust your concerns to Him—because He’s already handled it all.

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