When You Mix Suffering and Sovereignty Into Your Life

Suffering is the expected, ordinary life for Christians living as aliens in a fallen world. God knew this, which is why He equipped us to live as victors when engaging the realities of fallenness. “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).

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You have “unique suffering” that is custom-fitted to your back. Nobody has your story or can carry your burden. You have to deal with the uniqueness of your life daily. The good news is that many fellow strugglers have gone before you, and have left their thoughts to help you in your journey. I want to share some of their wisdom with you.

Samuel Rutherford on Suffering

You will not get leave to steal quietly to heaven, in Christ’s company, without a conflict and a cross.

O, what owe I to the file, to the hammer, to the furnace of my Lord Jesus.

Why should I be alarmed at the plough of my Lord that makes deep furrows on my soul? I know he is no idle husbandman; he purposes a crop.

I hope to over-hope and over-believe my troubles.

Reflective Thoughts

  • Are you more earth-centered than heaven-centered?
  • How often do you over-think and over-worry your problems?
  • Do you live as though this life is all that you have? How does eternity bring hope and calmness to your mind?
  • Do you push your relationships further than God intends because you’re not happy where you are in life? Or where they are in their lives?

The purpose of my last question is because we often aggravate our relationships because they are not how we want them. Without a proper view of suffering and eternity, you will not embrace your alien status. You are not of this world. But if you live as though this world is all you have, you will strain your relationships. You will attempt to bend them to your will. You will try to “speed up your family and friends” to be better because all you have is the here and now with them.

Rather than being a gospel-centered, gospel-shaped, and gospel-motivated Christian, merely passing through this world to a better place, you will aggravate your relationships with others, rather than helping them in their unique struggles. But when you appropriate God’s grace to your disappointment with others, His name is lifted, and those people are not manipulated to make me happy.

Let me illustrate – I spoke with a man who is divorced. He was grieving over not being able to see his children. I told him that he needed to retrain his mind by setting a different goal. His new aim is eternity, not earth. He wants to enjoy his children today like all the other dads in his life.

He will not get his wish because of his defunct marriage. Rather than pining away at what he does not have, I appeal to him to reset his goal, which is to make sure those kids make it to heaven. He will not get his best life now, but he could cooperate with the Lord in giving them the greatest gift of all, which is an eternal relationship with Jesus.

Charles Spurgeon on Sovereignty

When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself, and though I sought the Lord earnestly, I had no idea the Lord was seeking me. I do not think the young convert is at first aware of this.

I can recall the very day and hour when first I received those truths (of the doctrine of election) in my own soul—when they were as John Bunyan said, “burnt into my heart as with a hot iron,” and I can recollect how I felt that I had grown all of a sudden from a babe into a man—that I had made progress in scriptural knowledge, through having found, once for all, the clue to the truth of God.

One week-night, when I was sitting in the house of God, I was not thinking much about the preacher’s sermon, for I did not believe it. The thought struck me, how did you come to be a Christian? I sought the Lord. But how did you come to seek the Lord?

The truth flashed across my mind in a moment—I should not have sought him unless there had been some previous influence in my mind to make me seek him. I prayed, thought I, but then I asked myself, How came I to pray? I was induced to pray by reading the Scriptures. How came I to read the Scriptures? I did read them, but what led me to do so?

Then, in a moment, I saw that God was at the bottom of it all and that he was the Author of my faith, and so the doctrine of grace opened up to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed to this day, and I desire to make this my constant confession, “I ascribe my change wholly to God.”

Reflective Thoughts

No matter what you are going through, it’s vital to remind your soul to anchor itself on this truth: God is at the bottom of it all. That which He has begun, He will see to the glorious end (Philippians 1:6)! He is working in you His functional purposes, which is to conform you to His most beloved Son.

  • When your soul is going through trouble, are you anchoring your hope in God? Do you find comfort and help in knowing that He is always there?
  • Suffering and sovereignty are always in play in your life. Which one has more power over you—your suffering or God’s sovereignty?
  • When the trial comes, does it overpower you, or direct your mind to God’s sovereign care in your life?
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