by phil russ
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Rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Romans 5:3-5 NIV)
"Why won't you stop this?"
When I cried out these words to God, illness and pain had become my whole life, my every waking moment. Test after test revealed nothing; there seemed no answer to the pain. I hit rock bottom. I just wanted to die. How could God possibly love me?
As I cried out to God, something started to happen. I became very aware of His presence. I was so overwhelmed by His love that I no longer centred on the pain. My focus was on His love.
I call as my heart grows faint, lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (Psalm 61:2 NIV)
We learn from adversity. It shows us how much we need God. It also produces character. It refines the integrity of our hearts and lets God use us by showing others: In your darkest hour, He will be there for you. It is easy to say, "Why did God let this happen?" Remember, He never said we would not face adversity. He did say we would never be outside His care.
We can rejoice in suffering, because we know it is not meaningless. Part of God's purpose is to produce character and to bring us into maturity. To grow His love in us.
God's love didn't change my circumstances. I still suffered from illness. However, He changed my response to it. You see, we can either give way to self-pity which grows into a bigger problem, or we can allow the love of God to transform our response from within. God brought me to a place where it no longer mattered what was wrong with me. I have an all-wise Creator God who loves me and is in full control of the situation. From that moment on, I started to get better. As I looked back, God showed me that He was changing my character, using that difficult time to bring about change within me.
In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8;37-39 NIV)
Don't judge God's love based on your circumstances. Instead, look for Him in the midst of them.
Father, we thank You that You promise never to leave us on our own, that You are there in the midst of it all. You are so much bigger than any of our circumstances, and we thank You that You always make good any situation, that You are working behind the scenes. Help us to trust in Your unfailing love and to know there is a purpose in every one of our circumstances, and that we will come out of it a better person, more refined. Amen.
If you are suffering today with a particular situation, hand it over to God. Tell Him that you trust Him with your life, and let His love transform you from within. Ask Him to show you the work He is doing in you during this time. There is a purpose in this. God is working in you. Stand firm and trust Him.
© 2006 Phil Russ
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Phil, I want to commend you on this inspirational and encouraging article about your learning to lean on God and coming to understand He has a purpose for you. Certainly, from your testimony, you have become a much stronger Christian. That is one of the best blessings one can hope for while on earth. Have you read Charles Swindoll's "Job, a Man of Heroic Endurance?" If not, I highly recommend it to you, and not only to you, but also anyone reading this comment. Thanks for sharing.