“It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.”
- Psalm 119:71
“Afflictions, sufferings or persecutions need not be bad. Some are good. They teach us lessons that God wants us to learn. The caterpillar struggles to come out of the cocoon with strengthened wings to enable it to soar into the sky. Without that struggle it will just drop to the ground. God answered Paul’s prayer to have his thorn in the flesh removed—not removing it but providing His grace to bear it. Are you learning precious lessons from God through sufferings? Look up to Him. His grace is sufficient.” – K. C. Ung
I have many friends and family who are suffering right now. Suffering with health problems, employment problems, marital problems, emotional problems and other things too. Being a Christian does not mean a trouble-free life! Jesus Himself said, ‘in this world you will have trouble.’ But we find that life is bittersweet, the bitterness of the trial is sweetened by the knowledge that God will always use everything for our good – Romans 8:28. In the problems we are often drawn closer to Jesus. So although the experience may be bitter, there is the sweetness of knowing Him much better which is the result.
If we drink lemon juice by itself it is too bitter. If we drink sugar-water by itself it is too sweet. But combine the two and we have a drink which is perfect to quench our thirst. We do not look for trouble and problems, of course, because none of us enjoy them. But, if that is the only way we can be closer to Jesus? If that is the only way we can learn more about Him? That puts a different perspective on everything.
John was told to eat the scroll in Revelation 10 and it was sweet in his mouth – but became bitter in his stomach. There is such sweetness in knowing Jesus, but while we are on earth we are told to take up our cross if we want to follow Him. So many times we see in the Bible the contrast between the bitter and the sweet.
Smith Wigglesworth wrote, ‘Great faith is a product of great fights. Great testimonies are the outcome of great tests. Great triumphs can only come out of great trials.’ We all want the sweetness of great faith, great testimonies and great triumphs – but what about the bitterness that goes hand-in-hand with them?
I have such admiration for many of my friends who, although suffering, are still praising God for His goodness and His love. They would not care to be named and honoured on this blog, but I know for sure they are named and honoured in heaven.