Short Term Suffering For Long Term Gain
Suffering means to endure something unpleasant. We all are going through suffering and uncertainty. I want to ignite your imagination that suffering can be used to bring your life and perceptions of this life into a new realm of understanding that perhaps all this uncertainty is being allowed for our ultimate good.
We are all undergoing a deeper spiritual education, sometimes to be good is not to be kind. Think of dentists, parents and teachers, they may not have seemed kind at the moment, however, they had the wisdom to allow short term suffering for they knew the long term gain. They knew you were helping you though pain towards a greater good.
Paul in Romans 5:3-5 Declares it this way, “Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings knowing that suffering produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame for God’s love has been poured into our heart through the Holy Spirit which has been given us.
To quote one of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis explains it this way “God whispers to us in our pleasure, speaks in us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains. It is His megaphone to arouse a dead world.” C.S.Lewis goes further on in his thoughts and states, we are good stuff gone badly, a defaced masterpiece. A rebellious child, imperfect people who need growth, but we are rebels who need to lay down our arms. Pain and suffering are frequently the means by which we are motivated to finally surrender to God and seek the cure of Christ.”
When I use to read these books and think about these solutions that cursing and blessing are one in the same. That lives and nations where orchestrated by God for all people to fall on their face and find their meaning in Him, I would cringe. What kind of power trip was He on? Until I understood to know there was evil, it was to know somewhere in my being I longed for good. This was a hidden clue in my conscience towards seeking Him, and when the revelation of knowing that through suffering, that I would seek Him and not all would choose this route. I understood suffering proved to me my free will to love God or deny God, he taught me through suffering that I am no longer a victim of my surroundings or circumstances or belongings. I am a conqueror of all these things and that all things are not declared good, but all things will work together for my good for I love God and I am called according to His purpose.
I have been in such emotional pain that at times I have had to ask God to help me breath. I have been in so much fear and anxiety at times in my life that I was afraid of vanishing into nothingness. As I look back at these horrific times of my life, the hardships, the uncertainty, and the constant trial, I stand here before you today declaring that God was stripping me from false identities. A web of self-imposed lies, and traps of performances that made me feel good enough for the moment, but then empty. We were not created for this temporal world and its trappings, we were created to be fully known and to fully know God. God got me through every one my trials and all of His promises have rang true. My trials were the “eternity tools” that molded me into as Ephesians 2: 10 calls us, His masterpiece. We were put here to fulfill a purpose that only we can do and to mold us into that masterpiece of marble that takes some hard gut wrenching to chisel away.
Paul, one of my heroes, one of the most prolific contributors to the New Testament, and a profound orator said it this way. After searching out the heart of God and asking Him to remove his difficulties and suffering, God’s reply to Paul is mentioned in 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness”. Paul goes on to say, “most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon us”. I don’t want to suggest that Paul was happy with the situation or did not desire to be removed from all of the trials and hardships he faced, certainly not, rather I would suggest that He trusted God completely knowing that God had already saved him from the darkness of his own thinking. Even though things were hard and Paul certainly endured tribulation, he understood completely that even the hard things were being worked out to take him further and deeper into dependency on a faithful and loving God that was working out the weakness for Paul’s ultimate and eternal good. The fact that most of us are Christians because he lived is testimony to this.
Let me explain this to you in a modern example, a young athletic superstar who is heading for the Olympics gets in a serious auto collision just before the games. He is now unable to compete. Now comes the next strongest force other than love in the world, free will. A free will to decide one’s own limited interpretation of events or ask an Omnipotent all knowing God His definition. A re-direction if you will, this just might be a temporal setback, a short term suffering for a long term gain. This young athlete has a choice to make and free will is the marker. For sake of argument, this young man accepts his weakness and now chooses a life of the mind and becomes a scientist that solves the next wave of viral pandemic. A short term suffering for a long term gain.
God ultimately uses the most difficult things in life to mold us into the eternal masterpiece that was always there from the beginning of His design, not ours. God will show us who we really are when we go through trials.
Faith grows in unfamiliar places and the Bible is clear in pattern. That when He is going to do a great work in our life He asks us to leave the familiar. He asks us to sanctify and consecrate ourselves. We’ve certainly have been asked to leave the familiar and all of its trappings of comfort. We have been asked like Abraham to leave our father’s house to a new land that He will show us. Abraham did not have google maps and neither do we. All we have is our free will to trust or to fear.
So to help subside the natural tendency of human fear, I would like to look at some scripture and precepts of an unchanging eternal God that cannot lie. Before we do that I would also like to remind you that many people before us have gone through uncertainty and calamity. They also had the choice of fear or faith.
Deuteronomy 31: 8 “And He will be leading you. He’ll be with you, and He will never fail you nor abandon you, so do not be afraid”.
Isaiah 40: 31 “But those who trust in the Eternal One will regain their strength. They will soar on wings of eagles. They will run. Never winded, never weary, they will walk, never tire, never faint”.
And my personal favorite is Isaiah 43: 19 “See, I am doing a new thing now it springs up, do you not perceive it. I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland”.
In Malachi 3:6 God declares. “For I am the Lord, I do not change”. He is the same yesterday today and forever and His promises are our covering and protection in these times of uncertainty. Peter, another savory character in the Bible makes a statement which rings true today. After Jesus had been abandoned by many of His disciples. Simon Peter blurted out. “Lord to whom should we go? You alone have the words of eternal life, you are our only hope”. The words of eternal life clearly shows the patterns and precepts that tragedy and calamity are most often used for our ultimate good and to bring us closer to God and others, a short term suffering for our long term gain.
So in closing I want to encourage you that calamities, tragedies, war and pestilence have been with us since the beginning of time. Additionally with these calamities, God has been consistent with His purposes through them. To bring us closer to Him and others, to seek out the reason we were born, then to live it out in the shelter of His wings leading others to Him and being the light and influence in our sphere society. A short tern suffering for a long term gain.
Be encouraged next week we will provide even more encouragement as we discuss living your purpose in the face of uncertainty and tragedy.
Written by Karynn Dawn Pensanti
Host of Precepts Show