Generally speaking, we don’t like to suffer. And we have a hard time thinking that suffering can be good. When we experience hard times, we wonder where we went wrong and why God is punishing us. But God allows suffering for a variety of reasons. One reason that God allows suffering is because he is passionate about his glory. God’s goal is not our happiness but his own high and eternal purposes. God allowed a man to be born blind and to spend his life disabled – so that Jesus could come along one day and perform a great miracle in the presence of many witnesses (John 9). This man played a unique role in paving the way for the great Deliverer.
Consider how this principle played itself out in the life of Gideon (Judges 6-8). The nation of Israel was in a bad way during the time of Gideon. They were oppressed by the Midianites. Year after year Israel would do all the work of planting crops, but when it would come time to harvest, the Midianites would sweep in and take the crops. But God chose to show up in Israel’s weakness. And God chose to act through Gideon – an insignificant person from an insignificant tribe. And God chose to act when the odds were drastically stacked against Israel. God kept thinning Israel’s troops until there were only 300 left.
The apostle Paul considered his own life and concluded that when he was weak, God was strong (2 Corinthians 12:10). And this was not just Paul’s personal story but the way that God normally works. God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the strong (1 Corinthians 1:27).
Now I am not suggesting that we should pursue suffering or relish hardship. But perhaps we should stop thinking of our weakness as an obstacle and start thinking about it as an opportunity. Instead of thinking that God has lost track of us, perhaps we should consider the possibility that our suffering is a set-up for God’s glory. We want to work from a position of strength. But God often does his most notable work when we find ourselves in a position of weakness – and that might be a good principle for us to remember this election season!
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