The Blessing of Suffering

A word that everyone likes to hear is the word blessing. In fact, I do not know of anyone who does not like to be blessed in some way. Christians especially love to use the word blessing. I often hear things like, “I am so blessed,” “What a blessing,” or “God has really blessed me.” While all of these things might be true, I often wonder if we misuse and misunderstand what it really means to be blessed.

For many, blessing is often associated with receiving something that benefits them. Generally, people associate the blessing of God in their lives with certain answers to prayer, or specific provision in their life. People will pray for things such as a job, the birth of a healthy child, or for their cancer not to return, and when those things happen, they declare, “God is good. He has blessed me.” I would contend that in those instances, God is good and He has blessed you, but is getting what we want, or what we pray for on this earth, the truest definition of what it means to be blessed? I think there is a deeper meaning and understanding to the blessing and goodness of God.

Think of it from this perspective: the next time you pray for something, or ask God for something, and it does not happen the way you prayed, what will you declare? When you do not get the job, when your child is not born healthy, or when your cancer returns, will you declare that God is good and that He has blessed you? It is not often that people declare with great boldness and joy the blessing and goodness of God in their suffering or trial. We say things and sing things like “God is good all the time and all the time God is good,” but when things do not go like we want or expect, we are not quick to make such a declaration. Could it be there is actually blessing in suffering? Could it be that we discover the goodness of God in a much deeper way in the midst of suffering instead of in spite of it? I think the answer is yes! The Bible teaches that suffering is indeed a blessing from God.

1 Peter 1:6-7 says, “In this rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” There is an invaluable blessing, which is gained through our trials. One blessing gained is that our faith is tried and proved. As C.H. Spurgeon said, “The way to try whether a ship is well built is, not merely to order the surveyor to examine her, but to send her to sea: a storm will be the best test of her staunchness.” It is one of the great mercies of God to have your salvation proved to you under trial. Trials prove the genuineness of our faith, and as we remain true to God under trial, we can be sure that our relationship with Him is not mere profession, but real consecration.

Christians in every age of time have always seen the blessing of suffering. They knew that when they suffered for Christ, they were in a way becoming like Him. The early Christians are recorded as being arrested and beaten for their boldness in preaching the Gospel, and after they were beaten, the Bible says they went home praising God because they “counted it an honor” to suffer for their Lord. The Apostle Paul declared that he wanted to know Christ through the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. The Apostle Peter said that we should not be surprised by trials, but should welcome them with joy, knowing that as we share in Christ’s suffering on earth, we will also share in His glory in Heaven. These, and countless others, saw suffering as blessing. They knew they were not storing up treasure on earth, but rather treasure in heaven. They had the right perspective and knew the deeper meaning of blessing.

As you think about the blessings in your life, do you only count the things you can see? Do you measure your blessings based on the things that benefit you? I am convinced that it is time we start seeing suffering as a blessing. It is time we show the world that real faith is not trusting God when He gives you what you want, but trusting Him even when He doesn’t. There is tremendous blessing in suffering, for when we suffer, we discover the goodness of God and genuineness of our faith. Rejoice in those realities!

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