Hello there my friends.  It is officially fall season here in the North America region.  Wow, we are nine months into the year already! Time has surely flown by quickly.  Well it is for another encouragement friendly episode. The subject on my heart today is “Why Suffering is permitted for Believers?”  Have you ever felt like you were in the midst of concurrent trials where as soon as one trial ended, there was another one waiting for you almost immediately?  What were your first thoughts?  Did temporary thoughts of fear, anguish, panic, and frustration come to mind?  If they did, just know many, many others have faced the same thoughts as you have.  As believers, we are assured in Romans 8:28 that our God works all things out for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose!  Ah perhaps you recall the story of Job who was one of the most faithful men of the Lord who ever lived here on earth. The bible tells us not only was Job faithful but he was also the richest man in the area.  He owned 7000 sheep, 3000 camels, 500 teams of oxen and 500 female donkeys.  This was by far an enormous amount of wealth for that time period.  If you also recall, without notice or any advance warning, God permitted Satan to touch Job by taking everything away from him including all his children who died on the same day. (Job 1-2).   This was done in an effort to test his loyalty to God.  As if that was not enough, Satan was also permitted to touch Job’s health physically but spare his life.  As such, Job was struck with terrible boils from head to toe.  Can you imagine for one moment losing everything you have in an instant including your family?  Perhaps not but Job’s wife asked him “why don’t you just curse God and die?” His response was “Should we only accept the good from God and not the bad?”

Have you ever considered the trials you have faced to be permissible by God?  You see Job’s response in the midst of his suffering completely negates the woe unto me mentality.  In fact – while there are some trials which we have brought upon ourselves as a result of sin, poor judgment, mismanagement of resources etc. There are still those trials which have come into our lives because they have been permitted by God.  If you are a believer who is doing all you can to live according to the word of God, one who serves, loves others the way God has called us to do, and you are striving daily to live at peace with all men, yet you find yourself still facing trials – consider them to be training ground to stretch your faith and prepare you quite possibly for your next assignment. Indeed he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord himself watches over you. (Psalm 120:4 – 5a)  Remember, the God we serve causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust. Job’s friends certainly did not help his situation during their dialogues with him as each of them made reference to the presence of sin in his life or that he must have certainly done something to offend God for such calamity to be taking place in his life.  Is it not interesting how friends can be so quick to throw us under the bus based upon their speedy assumption that the misfortunes we face are as a result of evil deeds we have done? When such difficulties really could be just a permissible test from God?  Do you have friends of integrity who will just sit with you, pray for you and listen without judgment during times of trials in your life? If not, begin to seek God to send you such people.

You see many people would love to grow in their faith in Christ but just without the hard trials. Well many great men and women of the gospel have endured suffering for the cause of Christ! As I studied the entire book of Job again a couple of months ago – some of the lines in my prayer journal to God were as follows:- “Oh Lord give me the poise to stand upright in the midst of tough times. Help me to keep my eyes focused on you even if my friends stray away during my times of trouble. Help me to never assume the wrong of another human being based upon external circumstances, for you are the only one who truly knows the inner depths of the human heart.” May we come forth as tested pure gold when we come to the crossroads of concurrent life trials.  It is very important to keep your eyes focused on the one who has all power to deliver during these times by reading your bible daily, singing worship songs, praising God in advance for the deliverance and thanking him for the higher level of faith coming to us as a direct result of the trials. Equally important is to surround ourselves with godly people who will be there during our times of need. If you keep reading the story of Job, you will see the Lord blessed him with twice as much as he had in the beginning for his faithfulness. He now had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 team of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. God also blessed him with 7 more sons and 3 more daughters. Job lived to be 140 years old and lived to see 4 generations of his children and grandchildren! May the Lord help us to live faithfully, trusting in his promises when he permits suffering in our lives. For we will come out purified and blessed when it is all over. Plus we get to share our story to encourage someone else. So cheers to persevering well amidst difficult circumstances!

Remember - you too are fearfully and wonderfully made for such a time as this. .