Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord...Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you...He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you.
Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 5, 16
When we suffer we must remember that God is a loving Father who disciplines us for our good. Sometimes this discipline is in response to our sin, a punishment. Other times it is discipline in a different sense of the word like a father teaching his son the discipline he needs to work hard and hold down a job. Sometimes God "disciplines" us in preparation for the good future He has in store for us. So it was with the people of Israel. As they walked through the dessert and hungered for food it wasn't discipline for some sin they had committed, rather it was preparation for the future. God was teaching them to look to him alone to supply their needs. God did this "so that it might go well with them" in their future. He knew that if they were to fight for the Promised Land and drive out the nations who were much stronger than they were, then they would need to have perfected the skill of trusting Him and looking to Him to supply their needs.
It is the same with us. It is very easy to get frustrated with God when difficulty comes into our life, but the truth is that these challenges often cause us to grow in new ways. These challenges actually end up providing an opportunity for us to build up the endurance, strength and wisdom we will need in the future. We must remember that God is preparing us for a bright future just like He was the Israelites. Not only does He have plans for each of us here on earth (Ephesians 2:10), but He is also leading us to a "Promised Land" of our own - Heaven. Until the time that we receive this promise in full, He is working in us to conform us more and more into the image of His Son. He is purifying us from sin and teaching us to find our joy in nothing other than Him. But we can rest easy knowing that all the tests that He allows in our life were put there so that "in the end it might go well" with us (Romans 8:28).
When was the last time you thanked God for difficulty in your life? Today take a moment to praise God for his Fatherly discipline in your life?
For further reading...
- Romans 8:18-30- Predestined to be conformed into Christ's image.
- Genesis 50:19-20- See what Joseph said about all the suffering he had to endure in life.
- Matthew 4:1-11- See how Jesus used this passage to encourage Himself when He was experiencing a difficult time of His own.