By CRAIG HARRIS
Hebrews 12: 10-11 (NIV): Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
We love discussing God's goodness to us, but we forget that part of that goodness involves a certain amount of suffering. I want to remind us of seven reasons why God allows us to suffer:
1. To Discipline us. God's discipline makes us more mature. There is no shortcut to this and God knows it. Verse 10 above also reminds us that discipline makes us holy -- which is God's plan for us.
2. To Humble us. In 2 Corinthians 12:7, Paul says God allows a "thorn in his side" to keep him from becoming conceited. God hates pride, but will lift us up if we will be humble.
3. To Test us. This is the point of the book, Job. God wants the enemy to know our faith is real; he wants us to know our faith is real, and he wants to confirm that our faith is real. How would we ever know if we weren't tested?
4. To Prioritize us. In Numbers 14:34, God tells the Israelites they would suffer for their sins and "know what its like to have me against you." Suffering tends to point us away from sin and toward God.
5. To Strengthen our Faith. James 1: 2-4 says that trials test our faith and develop perseverance. So the trials we face make us stronger. God desires that our faith is strong so we will live by it each day.
6. To Glorify God. In John 9: 1-3, Jesus said a man was born blind so that God would be glorified when he was healed. Everything ultimately works for our good and God's glory.
7. To Prune us. John 15:2 says that God will prune us to make us more fruitful. God's goal for us, while we run the race set before us, is to be humble, mature, righteous, joyful, strong and holy. Some pain is involved in reaching these goals, but with God's help, we can do it. With God's help, we can win the race.
Craig Harris is an author, journalist and minister. You can see more of his Bible studies at http://threeminutebiblestudy.blogspot.com