Sometimes it seems like we never grow out of asking the “Why?” questions. Much like a three-year old wants the world explained to them, we want to know the reason that things are the way that they are. “Why are things difficult when it seems like it should be easy?” “Why are people mean to me when I’ve invested so much in them?” “Why, why, why?”
Some people insist that when they get to heaven they will ask our Savior all these questions. I tend to think that I will have more important things to do and the “why’s” will no longer be a part of my priorities. However, I’m grateful that in His Word, God tells us some of the “why’s” now. In His graciousness, He realized that having an explanation often sustains us when times are troubling.
For example, in Matthew 10:18 Jesus foretells of the disciples’ eventual persecution. In preparing them for this, He also tells them why they will have to suffer in this way; it is so that they can bear witness before the Jews and the Gentiles. God would use the pride of the rulers in order to give the disciples a platform to share His Gospel. It probably didn’t make the pain any less painful, but I’m guessing it built fortitude within them as they withstood it.
Similarly, God sometimes allows us to be persecuted so that we will have a platform from which to glorify Him. This isn’t always the reason why things are difficult; Scripture also makes it clear that the Lord disciplines those He loves. But if we can stand before God with a clean conscience that there is no unrepentant sin or a pattern of sinful behavior in our lives, then we have to consider that maybe God is using this trouble to promote His Gospel. That doesn’t mean that it’s right for people to be cruel, or that God desires for things to be difficult, but it does mean that He can redeem those things in order to cause others to see Him through your response.
Going through times of trouble are hard – not only because the season is challenging, but because sometimes we don’t understand the purpose for it. For the Christ-follower however, we can take confidence in the fact that the tough times are often used by God to bring others to Him. And for us, that should be the best reason to suffer well through them.
Have you seen God use times of trouble to display the Good News of salvation through Him? What can we do to ensure that we suffer well for the sake of the Gospel?