Does God speak to us through trials?
“For God may speak in one way, or in another, yet man does not perceive it.” (Job 33:14)
Recently I read a book by the name of “A gift that nobody wants” written by Dr. Paul Brand co-authored by Phillip Yancey. None of us would willingly accept the gift of pain, because it hurts and leaves an everlasting impact on our lives. In this book, the author talks about a group of people who have disfigurement in leprosy inflicted because of the loss of sensation, not because of the actual infection. For these people, the ability to feel pain would be the greatest gift.
After I read the book, I was pondering about the sufferings that we endure in our Christian life, which we never desired. C S Lewis quoted in his book, that when you are going through suffering; remember God is talking to you through a megaphone. In 2 Corinthians 12, we learn about the affliction of Paul which he never desired in his life and he pleaded to God to remove it for once. In v9 we read that God said to him “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness”. Once he received that promise from God, we read in v10 that he took pleasure in all those sufferings. In the Bible, we read about Joseph, who went through various trials in his life, yet in Genesis 45:5 he comforts his brothers by saying “But now, do not, therefore, be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life” . After reading about the various saints in the Bible who went through various afflictions, the significant realization I had was that all of them had constant communication with God and because of that, they took their sufferings as a gift.
I was always amazed by the sufferings that Job had gone through in his life. We read in Job 2, God testified him as a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil. Such a man was afflicted in various ways – lost his wealth, lost his children and even his wife wanted him to curse God and die. In earlier chapters, we read that Job took these sufferings with a submission that “Lord gave and Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord”. However, as the afflictions dragged over the months, his confidence in God started shaking. He started defending himself to his friends by saying things about God that were not true. He also began to claim on his own righteousness. His friends tried to blame the severity of Job’s suffering is because of some sins in his life and God was punishing him. How many of us were in the same situation as Job? When we have everything good in our life, we enjoy the presence of God, however when issues started creeping in, do we lose our faith or do we trust in Him.
When we read Job 32-37 we read that his younger friend Elihu clarifies that Job’s suffering was not a punishment or sign of God’s anger. He states that God speaks to us in one way or in another and we are unable to perceive it. He will speak to us in dreams or visions or in deep sleep. He opens our ears and gives His instructions. In v19, Elihu says God is speaking to us not only in above ways but also when you are chastened with pain on your bed – when you are going through afflictions in your life God is speaking to you. When Holy Spirit pointed out this thought in me, I was surprised. I do know that God can use many ways to communicate with us nowadays and the Bible is the most significant among all of them. However, the thought of God speaking to us in trials or sufferings was a new insight for me.
Job did not realize this fact and he was blaming that God was unresponsive to him. Instead of seeing his adversity as an opportunity for patience and for letting God mould him, Job grew resentment toward his loving God. He closed his mind to the possibility that he could learn something valuable from this suffering. When God understood this, He used Elihu to speak to Job initially. In Chapter 33, he explains that God has several reasons to speak in our afflictions :
• to turn man from his wrongdoing
• keep away from pride
• to preserve his soul from the pit
• keep away his life from perishing by the sword
To save us, God gave Jesus Christ as a ransom on that cross who went through sufferings. In v30 we read, God does all these things to a person not once, but twice, even three times in order to turn them back from the pit of darkness so that the light of life may shine on them. Like Job when we are going through suffering, we may be able to go through that for a little while, but when days, months, years pass by we will have vivid thoughts, which can drive us away from Gods perfect will on us. As Psalmist says in 23, we may need to walk through the darkest valley, but we can trust on the rod and staff of God, which can comfort us.
So, dear friends when we face sufferings of many kinds in our life, it could be your long-term sickness or financial situations or losing the loved one or everyday struggle in life or something else. As we read in 1 Peter 1 & James 1, sufferings bring us pain, however, ultimately it brings an intimacy with God where we will understand His sovereignty and become a testimony for others. Jewish people stoned Stephen, but through his suffering, he was able to see the heavenly revelation. Also, apostle John was left alone to suffer in Patmos but was able to see the eternal revelation in his affliction. God’s desire for us is to become holy every day and eventually become Christ-like. Once we are up to the perfect will of God, He will reward us with the crown of life in the eternal kingdom.
– Julie Tanish