Questions during suffering (Part 3)

When we suffer, questions enter our minds.  “Is God listening to me?”  “Is this punishment for some sin I committed?”  Let’s turn to the inspired Word of God, the Bible, for some answers.

James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” Since it is permissible to ask God questions, let’s ask the right ones.

Question 3 is this one: “Would You please remove this suffering?”

If  the answer is “yes”, then praise God for removing the problem.  Psalm 103:1-5 tell us this:  “Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

If the suffering is lifted, don’t forget to thank the Lord and praise Him.  Don’t be like the 9 lepers who asked for healing and then forgot to say thank you to Jesus.  Be like the 1 who returned to praise God (Luke 17:11-19).

On the other hand if the answer is “no”, understand that there is a reason for God allowing the suffering to continue.

The Apostle Paul had some physical issue that God would not remove even though Paul begged Him.  The reason for allowing the suffering is clear: to keep Paul humble.  2 Corinthians 12:7-10 says, “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

I believe Paul had vision trouble that God would not heal totally so he depended on God and not his own strength.  I feel that this was the “thorn in the flesh” since Paul was blinded on the road to Damascus and was later given his sight back by God.  When this happened, something like scales fell from his eyes (Acts 9:1-19).  Paul would later say that the Galatians would have “torn out their eyes” to give them to him.  He closes his letter to the Galatians with a remark about writing with “large letters.”

Was Paul’s “thorn” bad eyesight?  It is not clear; what is clear is that God had a reason for answering no.  We’ll explore this more in our next question.

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