Because God loves you, he will work to cleanse you. But it is a loving chastening upon those who repent and return to him. You may feel God’s arrows in your soul because of your past and present sins, but if you have a repentant heart and want to turn from error, you can call upon his chastening love. You will be corrected—but with his great mercy and compassion. You will not feel his wrath as the heathen do, but rather the rod of his discipline, applied by his loving hand.
Perhaps your suffering comes from making wrong decisions. How many women are suffering because they married men whom God warned them not to marry? How many children are breaking their parents’ hearts, bringing them to the end of their ropes? Yet many times this happens because of the parents’ own past years of sin, neglect and compromise.
When you know you have arrived at your lowest point, it is time to seek the Lord in brokenness, repentance and faith. It is time to receive a new infusion of Holy Ghost strength. It is time to be renewed and refreshed, to have spiritual strength overflow within you.
You see, when you cry out to God, he pours his strength into you: “In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul…. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever” (Psalm 138:3, 7–8).
One of the most difficult things for Christians to accept is the suffering of the righteous. Up to the time of Christ, the Jews associated prosperity and good health with godliness. They believed that if you were wealthy, in good health or otherwise blessed, it was because God was showing that he was pleased with you. This was why Jesus’ disciples had a hard time understanding his statement that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24). The disciples asked, “Who then can be saved?”
Likewise today, there is an erroneous doctrine that says if you are in agreement with God you will never suffer; just call out to God and he will come running and solve everything immediately. But this is not the gospel! The heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11 all walked in close relationship of faith with God and they suffered stonings, mockings, torture and violent deaths (vv. 36–38). Paul himself, who walked closely with God, was shipwrecked, stoned, whipped, left for dead, robbed, jailed and persecuted. He suffered the loss of all things. Why? These were all testings and purgings, the proving of his faith to the glory of God.
God wants to plant something in our hearts through our testings and trials. He wants us to be able to say, “Lord Jesus, you’re my Protector, and I believe you rule over the events of my life. If anything happens to me, it’s only because you allowed it, and I trust your purpose in doing it. Help me understand the lesson you want me to learn from it. If I walk in righteousness and have your joy in my heart, then my living and dying will bring glory to you. I trust that you may have some prepared glory, some eternal purpose that my finite mind doesn’t understand. But either way, I’ll say, ‘Jesus, whether I live or die, I am yours!’”