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Suffering Doing God's Will?

Q. I thought I did everything right. I went to church weekly and attended bible studies. I prayed every day and donated money to charities. But, I lost my job. Then my wife left me, and my adult kids just told me to move out - they don't want a "religious nut" living in the house. Is this God's will - is this how we are rewarded for doing good?

Answer:

Good Deeds Result in God's Favor?

Your misfortune is sad and very difficult. We're sorry to hear about the string of events that are so discouraging to you.

It's puzzling. But, almost everyone we know thinks that if they are in God's will and do the right things everything will work out as they planned and that their families will be encouraging and loving. But, the Bible has shown us repeatedly this is not always true.

Jesus told His followers,

"everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name's sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life" (Matthew 19:29, NASB).

Although we may not fully understand this passage here on earth, it is clear that a great reward awaits you in the life to come.

Recently, we came across a similar story about a man who took in his dying mother. His brothers refused to help. So our friend had to quit his engineering job to give his mother full time care because of her illness. Now he has no job, his mother died, his siblings have rejected him and he lives in his car! Where is the justice in that?




Not Successful but Obedient

But, God's Word does not promise that we will be successful. We are encouraged to be obedient. Living in God's will doesn't mean that things will work out the way we think they should this side of heaven.

For example, refer to Hebrews 11:35- 39:

"Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated - of whom the world was not worthy - wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised…" (ESV).

Just because we are Christians does not mean that we receive favor, good health or riches. These believers whose lives are recorded for posterity in the book of Hebrews certainly had nothing.

Your Best Life Now?

I wonder what Joel Osteen would say about Your Best Life Now under these circumstances mentioned in Hebrews 11? Is this the positive-thinking world that the Reverend Schuller commends (whose church recently went bankrupt, by the way)?

No. We need to rid ourselves of the false and harmful teachings of prosperity preachers.

In fact, many great heroes of the Bible didn't exactly live "successful" lives either. Consider these:

David

After King David was anointed he spent many years running from a crazed, jealous leader. Was he in God's will?

Moses

Things didn't go smoothly for Moses after he delivered God's message to the Egyptians. Was he following God's plan for his life?

Joseph

Joseph learned that things don't always go the way we think they should. He suffered rejection by his brothers, and spent years locked away in jail due to false accusations. Yet, years later he saved thousands of lives, clearly in the will of God. Perhaps one of the greatest quotes of all time came from his tragic circumstance:

"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…" (Gen. 50:20).



All Things Work Together for Good

No matter what our circumstances, God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God (Romans 8:28). We may not understand how this is true until we meet the Lord face to face.




A Web of Meaninglessness

By the way, theologian RC Sproul notes that the inverse of this statement is also true. Nothing works together for good to those who hate God. Can you imagine living a life caught in a web of total meaninglessness? Even your riches and successes won't count in the end.

Always remember that it is our obedience that counts, not our success.

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Voice of the Martyrs

We suggest that those of you who are rejected by your families subscribe to the publication, Voice of the Martyrs. (It's free).

Each month you will read true stories about the suffering church worldwide. These stories of faith and courage will encourage you to be faithful to Christ as you encounter seeming rejections and defeat.

www.persecution.com
Address: The Voice of the Martyrs
P.O. BOX 443, Bartlesville, OK 74005-0443
Ph. (918) 337-8015

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Meanwhile, don't give up on attending church and bible studies, reading God's Word and praying daily. You will be rewarded for all that you do.

That's a promise from God.

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil" (2 Corinthians 5:10, ESV).

Maybe not for now - but with certainty, then…

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References:


Blackaby, Henry. 2002. Hearing God's voice. Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman.

Bridges, Jerry. 1992. Trusting God even when life hurts. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.

Sproul, R.C. If God is good, why do I suffer? (CD). Orlando, FL: Ligonier Ministries. Available from: www.ligonier.org.

Voice of the Martyrs. Available from: www.persecution.com.








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