God Shapes Us Through Suffering

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The pandemic has thrown most, if not all, of our ‘regular lives’ for a spin.

While each of us is in a unique situation, we are all mourning the temporary loss of community, celebrations, and moments that we had hoped for. There is significant hurt and loss in many, if not all, of our lives. 

Christians are not immune from suffering – in fact, we are told in the Bible that there is an appointed time for everything, even death and loss (Ecclesiastes 3:1). God’s providence and sovereignty means that God has ordained this time – yes, even the coronavirus is a part of God’s sovereign plan. He is not surprised by its arrival, nor by our struggles to cope with it. 

God often shapes us through suffering and adversity. This is certainly not the first time in the history that this has happened, but for most, if not all of us, this is a first. As Americans, we often look through an individual lens, and there certainly is individual suffering right now. But the unique aspect of the pandemic is that we are all affected. This means that this is a moment for the church as a whole to be shaped. 

What is God teaching us, individually and collectively? We may miss out on what God is teaching us if we are impatient and too quick with our desire to get this over with and return to our “normal lives.” 

Wait on the LORD

While we should not give into fear and despair, a sense of sadness and mourning are certainly appropriate right now. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge these feelings and don’t be too quick to get rid of them. I encourage you to boldly, and with confidence, go to the LORD in prayer, for Jesus can empathize with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15). 

Can we come before God and praise Him in the midst of chaos in our lives? Can we put our faith in His promises when our lives are not what we had hoped they would be? Can we find contentment in all circumstances, like Paul wrote about he sat in a jail cell (Philippians 4:12)? 

Hope 

Suffering and loss are not the end to the story. As Christians, we know that there is always hope and renewal. It’s only appropriate as we have just celebrated Easter – when we remember and celebrate how the LORD redeemed us from death and sin by the blood of Jesus Christ. Our God is always renewing and giving life to what was dead and raising it up again. This is our identity as Christians. 

This season will pass. It will likely take longer than any of us would like it to, and it will cause pain that we don’t want to feel. But eventually, the pandemic will end, and we will be able to once again celebrate together, eat together, and embrace one another. Let’s welcome and celebrate that time when it comes! If we can grow in our faith as God’s people right now, it will be so much sweeter.

God is always with us and He will sustain us through this. He is shaping us in ways that we can’t foresee at the present time, for His glory and our good. He is already using this pandemic to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and bring many people to salvation in incredible ways. So, we wait upon the LORD and trust in his salvation, even now, until a new season begins, in God’s time. God is faithful in every season of life.

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