How to Respond to Suffering learning to obey four “impossible” commands
When we face disappointment and pain, how can we continue to trust God, give Him thanks, and choose to rejoice always?
Sometimes it seems impossible to obey the commands God gives us in His Word. However, as God enables you to understand the good that can come through suffering (see Romans 8:28 and Genesis 50:20), you’ll realize that it is possible to obey those “impossible” commands, because you’ll see life from a new perspective.
Jesus learned “obedience by the things that he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8), and so can you. (See II Timothy 2:12 and I Peter 2:21.) When we obey God’s Word, especially when it does not make sense, we learn through experience that God’s ways truly are best. In the end, we find that His will is exactly what we would have chosen if we had known all the facts.
“In every thing give thanks”(I Thessalonians 5:18).
Sometimes it is almost impossible to have a thankful heart when we look at events from our limited, earthly perspective. However, as we understand that God wants to bless us through even painful circumstances, we can give thanks because we have faith in Him. “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn of many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified” (Romans 8:28–30).
The blessings that God promises to us will last far beyond the suffering of the moment. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (II Corinthians 4:17–18).
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart”(Proverbs 3:5).
As we see God bring good in the midst of suffering, we learn to trust Him more fully. Understanding that God is working out an eternal purpose for His glory allows us to echo the words of Job: “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15). We can trust God to complete a good work in and through the circumstances of our lives, even though we experience pain. “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
“Fear ye not, neither be afraid”(Isaiah 44:8).
Fear is a natural response to seeing a situation from man’s point of view. We must bring the reality of God’s presence into our evaluation of the situation. God promised, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee“ (Hebrews 13:5).
God doesn’t claim that we will never experience rough times, but He does promise to be with us. “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee” (Isaiah 43:2). Looking to God in faith is always the right response to any situation. (See Romans 8:28 and Hebrews 13:5–6.)
“Rejoice in the Lord always”(Philippians 4:4).
As we see ways that God can redeem our suffering, we can learn to sincerely rejoice in Him—always. The Apostle Paul found joy in fellowship with God, even when life’s pathway led him into “ … the fellowship of his sufferings …” (Philippians 3:10). Paul wrote, “We glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in your hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:3–5).