People naturally love to receive gifts. A well-chosen gift has the power to make us feel special, valued, and deeply loved. Perhaps that’s why we tend to delight in God the most when we are most cognizant of the blessings He has given us. Either way, our heavenly Father is generous and gracious, and delights to give us good things:
“Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
Again it is written,
“You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.”
But when hardship and suffering are apportioned for us, days of calamity and pain, we too often forget the goodness of God. We become like Jonah who groaned in unbelief:
“O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
We grow faint of heart, and at times even desire to curse God and die. But Job rightly dismisses such talk as utter foolishness:
“Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”
Shall we? Shall we assume that we will escape pain and suffering when so many of our brothers and sisters are enduring it graciously in God’s sight? Shall we desire long life and see good days by denying the inevitability of the sorrows that were promised to us?
“In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Shall we forget the counter-intuitive logic of the gospel that tells us our suffering is a gift?
“For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.”
And shall we forget the example of the supreme sufferer who blessed God in His trials and kissed the very hand that smote Him?
Lord, your sufferings—the deepest, most evil sufferings ever endured in all creation—are the greatest gift ever given to humankind. Thank you for leaving us an example of suffering well, and also for giving us Your Holy Spirit so that our suffering might bring you glory!
“Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”
“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”