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How does God want me to respond to suffering?

Learning to obey four “impossible” commands

3 min

When you face disappointment and pain, how can you continue to trust God, give Him thanks, and choose to rejoice? Sometimes it seems impossible to obey the commands God gives 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 will realize that it is possible to obey those “impossible” commands! Why? Because God will open your eyes to see life from a new perspective.

Jesus learned “obedience by the things which he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8), and so can you. (See II Timothy 2:12 and I Peter 2:21.) When you obey God’s Word, especially when it does not make sense, you learn through experience that God’s ways truly are best. In the end, you find that His will is exactly what you would have chosen if you 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 you look at events from your limited, earthly perspective. However, as you understand that God wants to bless you through all circumstances, even the painful ones, you can give thanks because you have faith in Him and in His perfect plan. “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).

Realize that you are thanking God not for the offenses, but for His good and overriding purposes in allowing them to take place. God is not responsible for the wrongdoing of those who have sinned against you. He has promised, however, that He will use their wrath to benefit your life. “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee” (Psalm 76:10). Even when you do not feel thankful, you can still, by an act of the will by faith, give thanks.

The blessings that God promises to you 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 you see God bring good in the midst of suffering, you learn to trust Him more fully. Understanding that God is working out an eternal purpose for His glory allows you to echo the words of Job: “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15). You can trust God to complete a good work in and through the circumstances of your life, even though you 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. You must bring the reality of God’s presence into your evaluation of the situation. God doesn’t claim that you will never experience rough times, but He does promise to be with you. As a believer who is looking to God in faith and obeying Him, you can always have the right response to any situation. “For he [God] hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Hebrews 13:5–6). 

Fear is a natural response to seeing a situation from man’s point of view. You must bring the reality of God’s presence into your evaluation of the situation.

“Rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4).

As you see ways that God can redeem your suffering, you 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 [Christ’s] 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 our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:3–5).

How does God want you to respond to suffering? Trust Him. Lean on Him. Know that He is at work for good in your life. Give thanks in every situation. Fear not because He is on the throne. And rejoice in hope, for He will not leave you nor forsake you. Hold firm to Christ’s promise in John 16:33, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

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