God and suffering

Genie“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 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 (ESV)

Chapter         (ESV)

Audio              (3:29)

I’m spending this week looking at some of the wrong ways we may view God. Up to now I’ve described the possibility of seeing God from the extreme of being emotionally unattached, to being engaged with us only on the level of our performance, and finally to the other extreme of being the Heavenly Tyrant.

One final common misconception of God is seeing Him as our heavenly genie. This misconception comes not so much from poor modeling from our own parents, but rather from our own efforts to create God in our own image. After all…don’t we all want a god that gives us everything we need when we ask?

This explains the appeal of the health and wealth gospel, which essentially packages God as some cosmic genie ready to grant our every wish for health and wealth.

There is truth in the fact that God dearly wants what is best for us. The problem is that His perception of what is best is usually very different than our perception.

God looks at eternity… we look at today.

God seeks our character development…we seek pleasure development.

If we see God as the heavenly Santa Claus, we will not understand the bad things that happen to us and to the people around us. Suffering will cause us confusion, anxiety, and even anger, resulting in a distorted view of God.

Paul helps us maintain the proper view of God in the midst of suffering by telling us God’s purpose in suffering.

God uses suffering to make us better people.

Paul has realized this through his personal experience with suffering, which is why he is able to rejoice in the midst of that suffering. He knows that in the long term, suffering is better than immediate pleasure.

As you encounter suffering, either in your personal life or in the lives of your patients, remember that God is in the midst of suffering…creating a better person.

If it is you…rejoice!

Prayer: Lord, help me see suffering through Your eyes. Amen.

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