Today's Devotion

From Mike MacIntosh

Therefore the Egyptians set taskmasters over the Hebrews to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh supply cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were in dread of the children of Israel.
Exodus 1:11-12

Why does God allow us to suffer?  Doesn't He have the power to prevent suffering in our lives?  As a pastor, I've heard questions like these many times from wonderful people who are enduring incredible hardships.  No doubt, these questions must have been common amongst the Hebrews as the Egyptians afflicted them, setting taskmasters over them to build supply cities for Pharaoh.  But the greater the affliction, the stronger the Hebrews grew.  The more the Egyptians tormented the Hebrews, the more the Hebrews multiplied.  You see, God didn't cause their suffering, but He used it to strengthen them.  Instead of granting them a time of peace as slaves, He prepared them for a lifetime of freedom.

Today, God is preparing us, as believers, for an eternity of freedom in Him.  God allows us to endure tough times because they force us to rely on Him.  They force us to finally let go of our self-reliance, our pride, and our stubbornness, and let Him do a work in our lives.  No, adversity is not fun, and if you are experiencing tough times right now, my heart goes out to you.  "In the world you will have tribulation," Jesus said, "but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33b).

Our hope as followers of Jesus Christ lies in that simple fact: He has overcome this world.  Yes, we will struggle here on earth, but this is not our home, just as Egypt was not the Hebrews' home.  We have the promise of eternal life with Christ, through His death and resurrection.  He purposefully chose to endure some of the worst adversity anyone can imagine, not for His sake, but for ours -- and He overcame it.  But He didn't die so that we might live prosperous, unhindered lives here on earth.  There's nothing necessarily wrong with living a prosperous life, but Jesus died to give you something much greater: eternal life.

Does God have the power to prevent suffering in our lives?  Yes -- He has the power to save us from an eternity of suffering.  We must see the big picture as He sees it.  In Him, we have hope that one day, we will live with Him where there is "no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying," and "there shall be no more pain" (Revelation 21:4).  This world today, however, is broken because of sin.  God didn't cause the sin -- we did -- but God, in His unknowable love, overcame that sin so that we might have hope.

When those moments of adversity seem unbearable, know that God is at work.  Let Him strengthen you.  Let Him be your hope. A better day is coming.


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