WHY DOES GOD PERMIT WHAT HE HATES?

Why does God permit what He hates? Find out with special guest Joni Eareckson Tada.

Periods of awakening often coincide with periods of suffering for the people of God. The Bible indicates that Christians should expect suffering, for our Lord Himself suffered in this life.

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.Matthew 16:24

Joni, from her experience, provides us with a good understanding of the place of suffering in the Christian life, reminding us of our need for the Holy Spirit to sustain us as we face personal trials and even direct persecution.

Love this gem of wisdom given by Joni: God permits what he hates to accomplish what He loves. Christ in me the hope of glory.

DAVID’S PRAYER WAS ALSO AN AMAZING PROPHECY

Thank goodness we have the Psalms: how helpful they are in our Christian walk, they explore the full range of human experience in a very personal and practical way. However, one psalm, Psalm 22 stands out because Jesus quotes verse 1 as His last words from the Cross. Why did Jesus take us to this psalm? It is obvious when we read the rest of the psalm, the psalm is a prophecy of what Jesus was experiencing on The Cross at the time He spoke it.

David had no understanding God was using Him to deliver a prophecy that provides incredible detail about what Jesus would experience on The Cross one thousand years later. David was obviously going through a terrible time in his life to have expressed the words he did in this prayer but consider that God gave David the words to pray so that His prayer could be used by Jesus to prove He is who He said He was, the promised Redeemer of not only Israel but the World.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.
Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried and were rescued; in you, they trusted and were not put to shame.
But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; “He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet— I can count all my bones— they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots..
. ” Psalms 22:1-8

Note how Psalm 22 ends, David understood that regardless of whether God answered his prayer, God is still in control of His universe and this scripture will come to pass:

As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to Me, and every tongue will give praise to God.Romans 14:11

Moreover, it reveals that King Jesus will rule over the nations from Jerusalem in His soon coming Millennial Kingdom.

I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation, I will praise you: You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel! For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him but has heard when he cried to him. From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him. The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD! May your hearts live forever! All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. For kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations. Psalms 22:22-28

They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.” Revelation 20:4-6

A lot of bad theology inevitably surfaces when we face suffering. When people lose their faith because of suffering, it suggests a weak or nominal faith that didn’t account for or prepare them for evil and suffering. Any faith not based on the truth needs to be lost—the sooner, the better.

Suffering and evil exert a force that either pushes us away from God or pulls us toward Him. But if personal suffering gives sufficient evidence that God doesn’t exist, then surely I shouldn’t wait until suffer to conclude He’s a myth. If my suffering would one day justify denying God, then I should deny Him now in light of other people’s suffering.

Believing that God exists is not the same as trusting the God who exists. A nominal Christian often discovers in suffering that his faith has been in his church, family, career, or social network, but not Christ. As he faces evil and suffering, he may find his beliefs shaken or even destroyed. But genuine faith—trusting God even when we don’t understand—will be made stronger and purer.

The last three paras have been excerpted from Randy Alcorn’s book “90 Days of God’s Goodness”.

IS OUR SUFFERING POINTLESS?

Perhaps the greatest test of whether we believe the following Scripture is to identify the very worst things that have happened to us and reflect on whether we believe that God has or will use them for our good.

“In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose”. Romans 8:28

Invariably, if you have lived long enough so that enough time has passed since some of those “worst things” happened to you, then you’ll almost certainly find that God has used those circumstances to stop you from relying on your own efforts, grieving the Holy Spirit in the process and quenching His work in your life.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.Ephesians 4:30

Do not quench the Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 5:19

Jesus made it possible for God. our Father to send the third person of the Trinity to indwell our Spirit. As Jesus Himself said to His disciples, it is far better I go so the Father can send the Holy Spirit to be your counsellor, comforter, and teacher. If you let Him, He will direct your every step. Until you truly die to self and say to the Holy Spirit, not my will but your will be done this day and every day you truly cannot live the Christian life. The fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, kindness, and self-control will not be evident in your life nor the gifts of the Spirit available for ministry, words of wisdom, words of knowledge, gift of prophecy, gift of faith, healings, miracles, discerning of spirits, gift of tongues, interpretation of tongues. I would venture to say that until you realise the Holy Spirit’s presence and submit to Him, God will continue to bring painful experiences into your life. When you finally realise the immensity of the gift God has provided you will rejoice that God has brought those painful experiences into your life so that you eventually came to experience His wonderful truth. Experiences labeled as the worst things that ever happened to you become some of the best from an eternal perspective. That’s because God uses the painful, difficult experiences of life for our ultimate eternal good.

How is this possible? Because God is both loving and sovereign. Our experiences provide persuasive proof that while evil and suffering are not good, God can use them to accomplish immeasurable good. This knowledge should give us great confidence that even when we don’t immediately see any redemptive meaning in our suffering, God can see it—and one day we will too. Therefore, we need not run from suffering or lose hope if God doesn’t remove it. We can trust that God has a purpose for whatever He permits.

THE PROBLEM OF PAIN

C. S. Lewis said in The Problem of Pain, “The human spirit will not even begin to try to surrender self-will as long as all seems to be well with it.” Our self-will deceives us; in loss, tragedy, and suffering we may finally come to terms with our need for help.

Why do God’s children undergo pressure, suffering, and deadly peril? Paul answers clearly: “that we might not rely on ourselves but on God” God uses our weakness and inadequacy not only to build our character but also to manifest His strength and grace to us and through us.

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 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. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him, we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.2 Corinthians 1:8-11

Paul says, “Suffering exposes our theology. …Suffering will deepen your faith or it will weaken it. …Your suffering is not a failure of God’s plan. …In suffering, God reveals us and reveals Himself. … suffering is the workroom for grace.”

ENDURING THROUGH SUFFERING

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.Philippians 4:13

You cannot view this verse in isolation you need to consider the previous verse first.

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.Philippians 4: 11

Philippians 4:13 is not about how one can literally do anything we put our minds to simply because we are in Christ. Paul has a specific context in mind here—and it is not about attaining your personal goals and aspirations, developing a healthy conception of self-worth, nor is it designed to be a coping mechanism to deal with the grit and grime of life. Truthfully, the passage isn’t even about finding the secret of contentment in all things, despite insistence from many that this is the focal point of this passage. This interpretation does have more validity to it due to the following passage.

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.Philippians 4:11-12

Paul undoubtedly affirms learning contentment in all circumstances. However, the overarching point of Paul to the Philippians in this passage is not contentment, but one of enduring through suffering, particularly, suffering brought on through no fault of our own.

Job a model of faithfulness in suffering

The Letter to the Philippians is one of Paul’s epistles written from prison, which means that as he pens this letter, he is chained to a Roman guard waiting for his trial before Caesar. In the midst of Paul’s expression of gratitude for their financial support, he takes the opportunity to encourage his people that Christ Himself is the source of all comfort, hope, and faith. The simple reason why Paul encourages them in this manner is they have been appointed, not only to eternal life but to suffer for the sake of Christ, which in particular for them means they will experience the same things Paul has (Philippians 1:29-30). Paul is not only referring to being jailed for Christ’s sake, but to enduring physical persecution (2 Corinthians 11:23-27).

It is in light of this that Paul then ministers to those in Philippi by highlighting the hope of the gospel, the resurrection, and the object of their faith: Jesus Christ. He is all-sufficient and provides for our every need by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Bible teaches us how to embrace suffering for the glory of Christ because it is the means by which we enter His Kingdom.

Adapted from articles by Grayson Gilbert on Suffering. Click on embrace suffering and you will connect to another great article by Grayson Gilbert.

UNDERSTANDING YOUR SUFFERING

If we recognize God’s sovereignty, particularly over Satan’s work, it changes our perspective about our lives and suffering.

Satan and God intend the same suffering for entirely different purposes, but God’s purpose triumphs. Satan sought Job’s ruin and loss of faith; God sought Job’s refining and faith-building. The very thing Satan intended for Job’s destruction, God intended for his betterment and ultimate reward (though certainly at a terrible cost).

2 Corinthians 12:7 gives us a striking picture. We see God sending a physical disability for His purposes and Satan sending the same disability for his. Paul says, “To keep me from being conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given to me a thorn in my flesh.” If the text stopped here, it would be obvious who gave the thorn in the flesh—God, who wanted to keep Paul from becoming conceited. Certainly, the devil would not lift a finger to prevent Paul from becoming conceited.

But Paul continues to describe the thorn in the flesh as “a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” Two supernatural beings, adamantly opposed to each other, are said in a single verse to have distinct purposes in sending Paul a thorn in the flesh. God’s purpose is not to torment him, but to keep him from becoming conceited; Satan’s purpose is to torment him, likely in the hope of turning him from God. Whose purpose will be accomplished? Who will win?

Paul says, in the next verses, he asked God three times to remove the “thorn,” but God refused. He did, however, reveal the purpose behind Paul’s unanswered prayer: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

How did Paul respond? ”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Paul rejoiced in his afflictions. Why? Because he knew God had a sovereign and loving purpose.

Joseph’s brothers intended his suffering for evil; God intended it for good.

Satan intended Job’s suffering for evil; God intended it for good.

Satan intended Jesus’ suffering for evil; God intended it for good.

Satan intended Paul’s suffering for evil; God intended it for good. In each case, God’s purpose prevailed.

Satan intends your suffering for evil; God intends it for good. Whose purpose in your suffering will prevail? Whose purpose are you furthering?

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4

Satan attempts to destroy your faith, while God invites you to draw near to Him and draw upon His sovereign grace to sustain you.

Some Christians constantly assign this mishap to Satan, that one to evil people, another to themselves, still others to God. Sometimes they are right, but how can they be sure which is which? 2 Corinthians 12 makes clear that God works through everything that comes our way, no matter whom it comes from. If God can use for good “a messenger of Satan,” then surely He can use for good a car accident or your employer’s unreasonable expectations.

You might not know whether demons, or human genetics under the Fall, or a doctor’s poor decision, or God’s direct hand have brought about your disease, but you know as much as you need to—that God is sovereign, and whether He heals your body now or waits until the resurrection to heal you, He desires to achieve His own good purpose in you.

Adapted from the article ‘Whose Purpose in Your Suffering Will Prevail?’  Feb. 3rd, 2022, by Randy Alcorn, Eternal Perspective Ministries (EPM)

GOD USES SUFFERING

God often uses suffering for His purposes, even Christians, to purge sin from our lives. The suffering causes us to stop and re-evaluate our lives. Holy Spirit conviction comes upon us and we realise we have grieved Him and quenched His work in our lives, This invariably leads to repentance and make us realise how dependent we are upon God’s grace. It will also lead to a lot of other good things in our lives, greater discernment, greater sensitivity to things of the Spirit, transformed minds, wisdom, expanded hope, increased desire to spend time in His Word and to know the truth, teach us to give thanks in all circumstances, increased faith, strengthened character. Hopefully, when we see God transforming our lives in these ways we will come to the conclusion that the suffering was worth it.

Quadriplegic painter Joni Eareckson Tada shares ‘life-changing’ words on anniversary of her diving accident

Not all of us have had to suffer like Joni Eareckson Tada but she wrote in he book When God Weeps: “Before my paralysis, my hands reached for a lot of wrong things, and my feet took me into a lot of bad places. After my paralysis, tempting choices were scaled down considerably. My particular affliction is divinely hand tailored expressly for me. Nobody has to suffer ‘transverse spinal lesion at the fourth-fifth cervical’ exactly as I did to be transformed to His image.”

How about Nick Vujicic born without arms and legs. He tried to take his own life at age eight in four inches of water. Thank God he was unsuccessful, hundreds of thousands maybe even more will be in God’s Kingdom because of the testimony of this man.

HOW CAN I SUFFER WELL?

What a crazy question? If one thing is true about this life, it’s that everyone suffers. It’s a universal experience; something we can expect to face at various turns in our life.

However, given that everyone suffers, maybe there’s a better question we can ask. Rather than, “Why do I suffer?” instead we could inquire, “When I suffer, how can I face it well?

None of us choose to suffer, but each of us gets to choose how we suffer. If we’re willing to shift our question in this way, God in Psalm 73 gives a brilliant answer.

A worship leader called Asaph penned this Psalm. The Psalm has three parts.

1. Problem: In verses 1-14, Asaph tells us about the problem that he faced.

But as for me, I almost lost my footing. My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone. For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness.” Psalm 73:2-3

Asaph is resentful of those around him making ungodly life choices but facing no consequences for it. He describes their cruelty, greed and pride in depth and then remarks, “Look at these wicked people enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply.

Maybe you feel the same sense of injustice in your own life; maybe you don’t relate at all. But one thing we can all take away from Asaph’s complaint is that God is big enough to handle our problems.

We don’t need to paper over them. Like Asaph, we can express our frustrations to God. If we need to whinge, far better to whinge to the One who has supernatural patience and can actually do something about it.

God wants us to draw near and tell Him about our struggles. He doesn’t require eloquent prayers—He just wants our hearts. This might be why the word ‘heart’ is mentioned six times in this Psalm.

At the height of his complaint, Asaph moans.

Did I keep my heart pure for nothing? Did I keep myself innocent for no reason? 14 I get nothing but trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain.” Psalm 73:13-14

In other words, “God, I’m trying to do the right thing, so why am I still suffering so much?” Does that question sound familiar? Yes, Asaph is asking the wrong question. He’s in need of some perspective—and that’s exactly what he’s about to get.

2. Perspective

in verses 15-22, we hear about the perspective that he gained. A sudden shift takes place as Asaph realises,

If I had really spoken this way to others, I would have been a traitor to your people.Psalm 73:15

Up until this point, Asaph hadn’t been seeing straight. He’d been in a deep well of self-pity, and now he’s starting to ascend out of it. His eyes have been opened to something we’re so often blinded to: our feelings are not facts. In such moments of self-pity, we need the facts to reshape our feelings. This is exactly what happens to Asaph:

So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper. But what a difficult task it is!  Then I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.Psalm 73:16-17

We moderns don’t like this idea—the destiny of the wicked. Surely at the end of time, we reason, God will be kind to all. But is that really what we want?

How terrible it would be to catalogue all of the evil, committed through all of the centuries, by all of the tyrants and terrorists, tricksters and transgressors. It would leave no doubt that the world truly cries out for justice.

A God that lets every wrongdoer off the hook is not a God worthy of our affection: he is a moral monster. Deep down, we long to see vindication for those who have suffered.

Despite our modern objections, deep down we long for the God of Asaph—the God who will right every wrong, who steps in to defend the oppressed.

God will bring about ultimate justice. This is the perspective that Asaph gained. Finally, he could see how wrong he’d previously been:

Then I realised that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside.
 I was so foolish and ignorant— I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. Psalm 73:21-22

3. Presence

Fortunately, this is not where Asaph’s journey ends. As he concludes his Psalm, in verses 23-28, Asaph testifies to the presence of God that he experienced.

What a relief that our problems don’t get the last say. And what a relief that even the right perspective isn’t God’s end-game when we suffer. The point of it all—the way to face suffering well—is to let it drive us into the very presence of God:

“Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you?
I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God is the strength of my heart; He is mine forever.Psalm 73:23-26

Your suffering might not be understood by a single soul on earth. But nothing escapes God. He knows of your struggle. He wants to meet you in it. He offers you the comfort of His presence.

In this Psalm, Asaph lands on a truth that you and I are still catching up with: there’s a gap between the real and the ideal, between how life is and how it should be. But standing in that gap is a God who listens intently to our problems, resets our perspective, and welcomes us into His presence.

If He were just any god, that might be cold comfort. But this is the God who Himself faced incomprehensible suffering. He didn’t remain aloof—instead, he took on flesh, walked among us, and dealt with all the world’s injustice at Calvary. Because of this, every wrong will ultimately be made right.

This side of the cross, we have even more reason than Asaph to confidently declare:

But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.Psalm 23:28

Taken from article “But God is the strength of my heart” by Kurt Mahlberg

PERSECUTION IS COMING FOR THOSE WHO STAND ON THE WORD OF GOD

In 1 Peter 4:12-13, the apostle Peter says, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though some strange thing happened to you. But rejoice insofar as you share in Christ’s sufferings, so that you may rejoice and be glad also in the revelation of His glory.”

The same Peter who wrote these words once rebuked Christ for declaring His intention to go to the cross (see Matthew 16:21-23). Peter once found suffering abhorrent, but now he tells us we should rejoice. Peter had grown in his understanding of the role of suffering in the Christian life. He had seen that the suffering of the cross was not the end—but only the way to the resurrection.

The persecution of the church is not new. In fact, history proves again and again that Christianity flourishes best under persecution. How then are we as Christians to respond to persecution?

On February 12, 2015, 21 Egyptian Christians were beheaded on the coast of the Mediterranean at the hands of ISIS fighters. Just before they beheaded each man, they offered him his life—if only he would deny Christ. But these brave men loved Jesus more than their own lives.

In this age of tolerance, we must love those who persecute us—but never surrender the truth. We must invite all people to come to the one who loves them and died for their sin. We must “implore [them] in Christ’s stead: Be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Above all, we must resist the temptation of being ashamed of the Gospel.

In the midst of suffering, God makes us some incredible promises:

  • “If you are reproached because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Peter 4:14).
  • “In the world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
  • “Our light affliction, which lasts but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

There is an indescribable blessing that can only be received through suffering for Christ. When you trust in Him, even amid persecution or difficult circumstances, you will experience His presence with you in a unique and powerful way. And as you walk with the Lord in obedience, He promises that He will never leave you or forsake you—in the fiery furnace, the lion’s den, or even in your workplace.

This article originally appeared on Leading The Way.