by Larry Dry
Recently I received an email from a retired pastor friend: “What I thought would be a routine exam with the heart doctor has turned out to be much more. So far I’ve endured wearing a heart monitor and having blood tests and an echo cardiogram. At least they have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that I do have a heart. Now they are trying to determine just what kind of condition my heart is in.
“One word of advice to you, my friends: Don’t turn 70! Just stay 69 no matter what the calendar or your birth certificate says.”
When the doctor diagnoses a heart problem or the biopsy shows cancer, your faith will be challenged. You may conclude that God is not strong enough to prevent disease or He does not love you enough to stop it. You must not base your understanding of God’s love on your perception of your current circumstances. Your foundation must be Jesus — in His life, death, and resurrection.
Suffering does not take God by surprise. Even Jesus anticipated the suffering of the cross and prayed it would not happen. But He knew His suffering was the Father’s will, and He submitted to it. You may never know God’s will in your suffering. You must simply choose to trust Him.
God can use your suffering to teach others. One Christian could be helped by knowing of the perseverance of another.
Your suffering may prepare you to give comfort to others. Paul wrote that God “comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Cor. 1:4).
Finally, God may use suffering toward the end of life to wean you from your love of this world. Peter said it this way: “The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, and if children, also heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ — seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:16-18).
Based on Finishing Well to the Glory of God by John Dunlop, M.D., © 2011. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, crossway.org.
Larry Dry is retired after serving as managing director of adult resources at LifeWay Christian Resources. He and his wife, Twila, currently have three grandchildren. Dr. Dry lives in Thompson’s Station, Tenn.
This article originally appeared in the June, 2012 issue of Mature Living. Subscribe