“My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees” (Psalm 119:71)
Why is it that we seem to learn more from the times we suffer than in the times we don’t? Jim Fallon, host of the Tonight show, recently shared of his experience after tripping and almost severing his finger. During his time in the hospital he came to an interesting conclusion:
I think Daniel reached a point like this.
By the time you get to Daniel chapter 9 the people of God have been through a lot of trial and suffering – most poignantly illustrated by the persecution of Daniel and his friends in chapters 3 and 6. They’ve been defeated multiple times in battle, lost their king, they’ve been removed from their homes and land, they’ve suffered persecution for their beliefs, and they’ve lost their identity along the way. To put it plainly, there’s much to regret and much to mourn. However, as the psalmist implies, “Suffering was good for them, for it taught them to pay attention to what God was trying to tell them.” And Daniel follows this line of thought saying, “Just as it is written in the Law of Moses (a part of the Old Testament in the Bible), all this disaster has come upon us, yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning form our sins and giving attention to your truth.” (Daniel 9:13)
Now that doesn’t mean God is causing bad things to happen but merely that when we suffer our hearts, minds, and ears are more open to what the Spirit is working to do in us. Whether it’s through a conversation with a stranger, a scripture passage that seems like it was just written for you, or God simply speaking to you through the Spirit – we are more open to his leading having suffered through a difficult time in our lives. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence we see those words from Daniel towards the end of the book that bears his name. After all, it’s because of the suffering and difficulties that we hear Daniel pouring out his heart in prayer and coming to the simple conclusion they need to listen to God’s direction for them.
One of the challenges for us as Christians in a rapidly changing culture, which often doesn’t favor us but that may not be such a bad thing, is how we will handle our perceived suffering. Make no mistake, we will all suffer at different points. Jobs are lost by the saved and the unsaved. Health issues affect the faithful and the unfaithful. My point is that suffering during times of change and transition, like the times we are experiencing now, can lead us to a new place of faith. Suffering can be good as it leads us to listen to God’s direction more closely.
This week I hope this truth encourages you. No matter what you’re going through God is still seeking you out and working to lead you to a place of greater faith in spite of your circumstances. So like Daniel, let us pour out our hearts in prayer for our families, our neighbors, our country, and our world.
We do no make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay…