I think we would all say that we’d like our lives to reflect the goodness of God. I don’t know about you, but I find myself guilty of wanting that reflection to involve my life actually being “good”. For me God’s goodness means that I’m happy, everyone’s healthy, and all the bills are paid with some left over.
When things start to go wrong I pull back, shut down, run and hide. I question God. Why would He allow suffering to come into my life? Doesn’t He know that I want my life to be a reflection of His goodness? And how can people think that God is good if my life is bad?
Doesn’t God want me to be happy?
The truth is He doesn’t. He cares a lot more about my soul learning to trust Him than He does about me being “happy”. And so, He allows suffering.
I often get asked “How can you know if this is a test from God or a trial from Satan”? I’ve wrestled with that thought myself. Often asking God “is this from you or the enemy”? But now I wonder if that even matters.
Job suffered because of Satan’s attack on his life. But before he attacked he got permission from God. Peter was sifted by Satan and denied Christ. But before he was, Satan asked God for permission. Paul’s thorn in the flesh was left there by a God who wanted to keep him humble. Abraham’s faith was tested by God.
Trials from Satan or testing from God the goal is the same, to strengthen our faith. It’s about us coming to a place of surrender and trust in the midst of suffering. And when we come to that point, that’s when God’s glory is revealed in us.
It’s easy to talk about suffering well for God’s glory. It’s another thing to actually do it. It’s one thing to read passages like 1 Peter 1:6-7
“So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while. These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold -- and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”
It’s another thing to truly be glad when trials come. When the doctor’s report isn’t good, when the bank account is empty, when your kids are suffering can we trust God then?
Well, that’s where I’m at right now. And I have to admit that there’s been very few cheerful moments. In fact, there have been lots of tears, and questions. But at the end of the day, the cry of my heart is still the same… that my life would reflect the goodness of God. Even here. Even now.