30 Nay 2020

We know that Scriptures teach that suffering is part and parcel of the Christian life (Phil. 1:29). We are also aware that God works through suffering to ‘purify’ the lives of the believers and to remove the ‘dross’ and ‘impurity’ from them, and also to forge endurance and character in their lives (Romans 5:3; 8:17). Of course, we should not suffer because of our wrongdoings and negative choices in our lives and look upon them as suffering for the Lord.

As we gradually ‘lift’ the ‘circuit breaker’ locally in this pandemic and other countries also are removing the ‘lockdowns’, various ones may sigh, “I am glad this is over’ or ‘I am thankful that this will soon be over’. Undoubtedly, there are many precious spiritual lessons believers have learnt during this difficult period but what would be the consequence after some time has lapsed.

One thing we need to guard against is to forget the important lessons God has taught us and to drift back to the ‘old ways’ and allow these lessons to fade away from our memory. Like the Israel of old, we may ‘yearn’ to go back to ‘Egypt’ and to ‘grumble’ and ‘complain’ against God because of the difficulties in the ‘wilderness’. We forget God’s wonderful deliverance from our ‘bondage’ and we fail to look forward to the ‘promised land’.

On the other hand, we may end up allowing our ‘disappointment’ and ‘loss’ during the period of suffering to continue to hold us ‘hostage’, feeding our minds and emotions with anger, resentment and a spirit of bitterness. We become, as it were, fixed upon the ‘pain’ and ‘agony’ of the past sufferings and not able to ‘let it go’. The important lessons from God fade into the background and the negative emotions and fears take centre-stage and remain in the forefront, causing us to ‘stumble’ and to be anxious about future undertakings and endeavours with God.

Afflictions can cause us to pay attention to things that really matter in the eyes of God and foster single-mindedness in our devotion to God or they can end up with us being ‘nervous’ and ‘unsettled’ in our future walk with God, allowing doubts and fears to colour our imaginations and thoughts. Questions like “Will God allow this negative situation to occur again?’ or “Can I trust God to see me through once more?”

Let us not forget that God, in His love, was, and is willing to go to any lengths to redeem us and to transform us. The cross always reminds us of His love and His determination to ‘save’ us and to transform us to be like His Son. We require a great deal of refining and purification in this process; suffering and afflictions are the instruments God would use to effect this. Let us always remember that He uses them in His lovingkindness, grace and faithfulness to make us ‘whole’.

Failure to trust Him may instead make us ‘bitter’ and ‘negative’ in our walk with Him. Let the pertinent positive lessons from sufferings be assimilated and imbibed deeply in our lives; let them not be forgotten so easily and let them not miss the result intended by our loving Master.