No matter how holy we live or how much faith we have, one way or the other we will – sooner or later – experience times of suffering and pain in some way, shape, or form. Suffering is part of the package being a human, probably as a result of the fall of man. Suffering is also a part of the Christian life. Jesus said to His disciples:
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (Jn. 16:33)
We cannot avoid tribulation, Jesus said, but we can choose how to respond when tribulation comes. How then are we to respond in seasons of hardship, when nothing seems to go our way, and God seems to be quiet?
Moses said the following to the people of Israel as they were about to leave the desert – a 40-year transition period of hardships and pain – and enter the promised land:
2 And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3 So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. (Deut. 8:2-3)
We know that the 40-year desert walk was not God’s best for the people of Israel; it was the result of their disobedience and lack of faith. God is not the author of our sufferings, but He can surely use them to form us into the persons that He wants us to be. It all depends on how we choose to respond.
During the desert walk, after the Israelites’ failure to possess the land, God wanted to teach the people of Israel to trust in Him and live by faith. He did so by letting them live by manna that fell down from heaven day by day. The people were only allowed to gather enough manna for their daily needs. They had no storehouse full of food and supplies, but simply had to trust that God would provide for them to have food to eat.
The daily manna is a picture of how we are to live by, and feed on, God’s word on a daily basis, and to trust in Him and His word more than in our present circumstances and what we can see with our physical eyes.
As we encounter seasons of suffering when things do not seem to go the way we expected, instead of complaining and blaming God for whatever problem we may have, He wants us to live by the Word as our daily spiritual food. God wants us to come to a place of peace and quietness in our trust in Him. He wants to bring us to a place where the struggle is over; a place of rest in Jesus and His finished work.
It is faith that releases God’s power to change our present circumstances. This faith comes by the word of God (Rm. 10:17). As we feed on God’s word and hold on to His promises, no matter what our present circumstances are, our restlessness, negativity, and unbelief will be rooted out. Faith pleases God and it is through faith in Him that we can overcome the world, because the ultimate victory has already been won by Christ on the cross (1 Jn. 5:4).
Are you experiencing a season of lack, sickness, family problems, or suffering in any other shape or form right now? God wants you to respond by feeding on His living Word, spoken to you through the Holy Spirit as you spend time with Jesus.
What word has God spoken to you that addresses your current situation? What promise of God are you currently holding on to in faith? That Rhema word, i.e. the word that God has spoken to you personally regarding your situation, is the key to your breakthrough, as you believe it in your heart and declare it with your mouth (Rm. 10:9).
Times of suffering and hardships are opportunities for us to dig deeper, to grow in our faith and relationship with God. Let us not waste those moments. If we respond in faith, God will use those experiences to catapult us into our next season; our “promised land”, where our prayer requests have been transformed into answered prayers.