This week's video encouragement is now up. With hard things coming our way pretty fast it's good to look at God's Word and remember some of the reasons why they do. Otherwise we can miss what God might be up to in our lives. Here are the 12 reasons listed out:
1. The World is Fallen (Gen 3:17–18; Rom 5:12)
And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. (Gen 3:17–18)
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— (Rom 5:12)
One of the key pillars of truth we need to have to persevere well in this world is the fact the world is fallen. Sin, death, disease, decay are part of it. It's hard-wired into the whole machinery of life in this world. God graciously heals and extends life and forgives sin, but we also live in a world of chronic illness, premature death, unpredictable viruses, and collapsing economies. We need to have the right expectations for life in this world. There will be joys! And blessings! But these joys are in the context of a fallen world.
2. To Accomplish a Much Greater Good (Gen 50:20).
As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. (Gen 50:20)
Sometimes the hard things that happen to us are so that others will reap great benefits.
3. For God to Reveal His Own Glory (Exod 9:16).
But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth. (Exod 9:16)
God raised up Pharaoh in Egypt just to bring him down in dramatic fashion. God actively hardened the heart of Pharaoh so that God could reveal himself as absolutely dominant over all other gods. Sometimes our hardships are so that God can reveal himself in some particular way—to us or to others.
4. To Show We Don’t Live by Bread Alone but by His Word (Deut 8:3).
And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deut 8:3)
Hear that word: “He humbled you and let you hunger.” We don’t like hunger. But the hunger here is to show that God sustains us with something greater—his very Word!
5. To Remind Us He is God and Doesn’t Owe Us an Explanation (Job 38:2–4).
“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? 3 Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. 4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.” (Job 38:2–4)
Job is tough medicine. But vital truth. Job experienced a hard providence as a parade of tragedy went through his life. He wanted to know WHY. He accused God. He questioned God. And at the end God gives no answer except the ultimate answer, “Because I’m God.”
6. Because He is a Loving Father Who Disciplines Those He Loves (Prov 3:11–12).
My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, 12 for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. (Prov 3:11–12)
This is really important. One of the places we go quickly in hard times is to saying God doesn’t love us. Pro 3:11–12 reminds that sometimes the hard thing is clear evidence that he does. He wants us to grow. To become holy.
7. To Glorify God by Seeing Hardships Removed (John 9:1–3).
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. (John 9:1–3)
This man born blind would be healed by Jesus in short order. It revealed the glory of God. People were saved because of it. Generations of Christians have been encouraged by the story. But it couldn’t have happened unless the man had been born blind and lived many years as a blind man. His blindness was so that one day Jesus would be revealed as the Son of God doing the works of God.
8. To Build in Us Character and Hope (Rom 5:3–5).
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Rom 5:3–5)
Like the promise from Prov 3:11–12, Romans 5 shows us that we can rejoice in “our sufferings” because of the work that God does in our hearts through them. We work and endure through the trial, and that endurance produces “character.” Walking through trials but steadfast in character forges a true “hope” in our hearts. That hope won’t disappoint because we are loved by God.
If we are his we are loved forever by him. But at the end of v. 5 is an invitation to have an experience of that love that lives with us. An experience that comes when we receive the filling of the Holy Spirit. That’ll be a time also when his love is “poured into our hearts.”
9. To Show Us His Grace is Sufficient Even When Prayers Go Unanswered (2 Cor 12:9).
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Cor 12:9)
In 2 Cor 12 Paul tells the story of the devil giving him a thorn in his side. He prayed for it to be removed. Three times! It wasn’t. But then God revealed something. The thorn put him in the place of need. That place of need became a place of greater grace.
Sometimes our hardships are to help us experience greater need so we can experience greater grace.
10. To Teach Us to Pray (Heb 4:16)
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb 4:16)
And speaking of need. It’s in that place of need that we are to pray. Draw near to the throne of grace. There we’ll “receive mercy and find grace.” “Help in time of need.”
Let hardships teach you to pray, not stay away.
11. Because the Lord Wants to Refine Our Faith (1 Peter 1:6–7).
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Pet 1:6–7)
Peter opens his letter by praising God for being born again. In this “you rejoice.” But now we’re plagued “by various trials.” SO THAT… our faith might be refined. Like a precious metal cooked in a furnace. So impurities burned away. Trials do that.
12. To Give Us a Longing for Heaven (Rev 21:3–4).
Our final word from the Bible has to do with the end of all things. Let hardships remind you of the final end of things. The last word is not hardship and toil and loss. The last word is glory. Hardships give us a longing for heaven:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Rev 21:3–4)
Be encouraged. God is at work and doing good things in your life, even if it involves hard things you wish weren’t there. The hardship isn't there because God has abandoned you or doesn't love you. Remember the promise of Rom 8:38–39, that "nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus." "Nothing!"
Thanks for listening (reading!). See you next time!