“So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”
- 1 Peter 4:19 NIV
When I was going through a difficult time recently, the Lord led me to two powerful messages saying the same thing—that if we will view our troubles as coming from Him, we will gain a unique perspective that will enable us to grow spiritually and profit mightily from them. He led me to a passage in Scripture concerning King David, which demonstrated how he used this principle to his advantage.
In 2 Samuel 16, David’s own son, Absalom, seems to be succeeding in taking the throne away from his father. To avoid unnecessary bloodshed, David decides to flee from Jerusalem, along with those who have remained loyal to him. As he does, he encounters a man named Shimei, who unjustly blames David for the death of former King Saul. Shimei begins cursing David and pelting him with stones and dirt, saying, “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you scoundrel! The Lord has handed the kingdom over to your son Absalom.” (2 Samuel 16:7,8 NIV) One of David’s military leaders says to him, "Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and cut off his head." (v. 9) In response, David tells him, “If he is cursing because the Lord said to him, 'Curse David,' who can ask, 'Why do you do this?’ Leave him alone; let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. It may be that the Lord will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today." (v.10,11,12)
I never cease to marvel at how David sees his troubles as coming from the Lord, and instead of becoming bitter, he adopts a mindset that focuses on the reward he is going to receive as a result of his trials. This is one of the many reasons why the Lord called David, “a man after My own heart.” (Acts 13:22) In reminding me of this passage, God was telling me to see my hardship as coming from Him, and to respond correctly, so that I might reap the rewards that He had in store for me. As I adopted this attitude, I began to see my difficulties as a test that the Lord wanted me to pass, so that He could bless me and use me in greater ways. The apostle Peter wrote: “These [trials] have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine…” (1 Peter 1:6-7 NIV) I heard a mighty man of God say, “A faith that hasn't been tested can't be trusted.” The Lord knows that our faith is like a muscle, and it develops and becomes stronger as it is tested and tried by trials. Each time we respond correctly in tough times, we prove to the Lord that we don’t want to stay on the same level of faith forever, and we are determined to press on to higher levels of commitment, devotion, and service.
The apostle Peter wrote: "If you are suffering according to God's will, keep on doing what is right, and trust yourself to the God who made you, for He will never fail you." (1 Peter 4:19 TLB) There will be times when the Lord allows us to experience suffering and hardship. But if during those times we see Him as a good and faithful God who knows what is best for us, He will cause our suffering to profit us somehow. David wrote: "Though You have made me see troubles, many and bitter, You will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth You will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again." (Psalm 71:20-21 NIV) David saw his troubles as coming from the Lord, knowing that God would not only comfort him and sustain him, but that He would honor him with promotion and blessing. The Lord rewarded David’s faith and faithfulness by giving him back his throne. What rewards might you forfeit today if you fail to acknowledge God’s good intentions behind your present troubles?
Prayer: Lord, teach me how to view my trials as coming from You, when it’s Your will for me to do so. Strengthen me and make me wise, so that I never have to reap the penalty of a wrong response. Remind me often of Your promise which says that after I have suffered a little while, You will restore me and make me strong, firm, and steadfast! (1 Peter 5:9-10 NIV)
- J. M. Farro