Article by Michael Goforth II:
Yesterday morning I was reading the devotional from, "Good News of Great Joy" and it was all about suffering. Here's an excerpt:
"We are promised glory — if we will suffer with him (Romans 8:17). The way up is down. The way forward is backward. The way to success is through divinely appointed setbacks. They will always look and feel like failure." -John Piper
Right after that, I read my next chapter in, Knowing God by J.I. Packer and that was all about suffering as well! Here are some quotes:
"We should not, therefore, be too taken aback when unexpected and upsetting and discouraging things happen to us."
“Fellowship with the Father and the Son is most vivid and sweet, and Christian joy is greatest, when the cross is heaviest.”
“We may be frankly bewildered at things that happen to us, but God knows exactly what he is after, in his handling of our affairs. Always, and in everything, he is wise: we shall see that hereafter, even where we never saw it here.”
After reading two devotionals about suffering on the same morning, I was beginning to think that God was preparing me for some massive tragedy. And to be honest, I was a little nervous about it!
Later that morning, I texted a few people from my church to encourage them for the day and ended up in a conversation with one of them. So I decided to share some quotes from my devotionals that day followed by, "Looks like God is preparing me for something. Kind of scary, but I know He is in control!"
He then responded by saying it could just be, "a simple reminder that not everything is intended to go our way, because our ways are not His.”
So who was right? Was God preparing me for some big trial or just some simple small ones along the way? I'm not sure. And it's a fool's errand to read into things like that and try to figure out what God will do next.
There were no big trials for me yesterday. Although strangely enough, when my wife and I read the devotional from, O Come Let Us Adore Him later that evening, that was about suffering as well! haha. So if anything, God was reminding me that suffering is a huge theme in the Bible and something that Christians should expect. (Philippians 1:29)
However, even though my day did not have any big trials, it was full of minor setbacks and frustrations. And I don't know about you, but for me it's really easy to, "sweat the small stuff." In fact, sometimes I feel like it can be harder to trust God and see His hand in the small frustrations of everyday life than it is in the "big" trials.
So my friend's text was a great reminder to not just apply what I had read that day to times of extreme hardship, but to also apply it to the "small stuff" as well.
This was Packer's advice from yesterday's chapter:
"How are we to meet these baffling and trying situations, if we cannot for the moment see God’s purpose in them?
Whether you're going through a big trial or a small one, this is great advice! If God is sovereign over all things, then He is not just in control of the big trials of our lives, He is also in control of the "small stuff." And when He promised to work all things together for good in our lives (Romans 8:28), the "all" in that verse includes small things.
I don't know what God is planning to do next in your life, but I do know that little frustrations are sure to come.
So when you face one of those minor but really frustrating setbacks today, trust that God allowed that trial into your life, seek His face, and respond with the strength He provides.