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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What is God up to?

That's the question that Ligon Duncan tackles in chapter two of his book "Does Grace Grow Best in Winter?".

How many of us has asked that question in the midst of a difficult trial trying to understand the purpose in our suffering?  All of us, I would imagine!

We had another great night of discussion and prayer at Bible study last night.  I can't tell you how encouraging it has been for me to meet with this group of ladies and witness how God has and is working in each one of their lives!  I don't want this to end in two more Monday nights!

Mr. Ligon drives home the point in this chapter that "ultimately, suffering is under the sovereignty of God".  In that we find our security, comfort and hope.  He offers four things God is "up to" in the midst of our suffering:
  • Teaching Us Godliness:  He says, "God ordains for your suffering to produce endurance, character, and hope... We rejoice in our sufferings because we know that God the Holy Spirit is working in us according to His sovereign plan.  God uses suffering to build something in us that would not have been there otherwise."
  • Giving Us Surpassing Joy in Christ:  Philippians 3:8-11 "Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith - that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may atain the resurrection from the dead."  Mr. Duncan stresses that "suffering gives us a correct estimate of the things of this life:  they are passing away.  As the pleasures of this world fade in our estimation, the salvation of Jesus Christ is magnified."
  • Building up the Church:  The ladies and I had to confess that we had never thought of how our sufferings or trials could build up the church.  God doesn't waste an ounce of our suffering!  He uses it to build not only our faith, but the faith of our brothers and sisters in Christ.  "God ordains, by the Spirit and by faith, for our suffering to bring about in the church the purposes of Christian affliction.  These purposes are: Christ in us , the hope of glory, and every one of us being made mature in Jesus Christ."
  • Preparing Us for Glory:  "So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us and eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."  (2 Cor. 4)  Mr. Duncan shares, "You couldn't bear the glory that God has in store for you, unless you had been held up by God in your affliction in this life.  There is a hope that cannot be taken from believers in suffering, because God is up to something bigger than us."  
I would love to hear how God is working in your life or questions you may have!

Counting it all Joy,