Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade, tells the story …
“In Italy at the Milan Cathedral there are three inscriptions over the respective doorways. Over the right-hand door there is this motto: ‘All that pleases is but for a moment.’ Over the left-hand door the words say, ‘All that troubles is but for a moment.’ But over the central door there is this simple sentence: ’Nothing is important save that which is eternal.’ This means that suffering, though temporal, has eternal impact and is therefore significant.
Above all, suffering has its purposes. Remember that the pain, the suffering, or the loss not only comes to pass, but it comes to pass for a purpose. Ask Job. Ask our Lord Jesus. The pain and suffering do end, and depending on our responses, God’s purposes can be fulfilled. Did I say there are purposes for suffering? Is there life-value in dying? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. God has given us in His holy, inspired Book, the Bible, great insights into suffering, testing, and faith.” 1
I love what Peter said: “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10).
But WHY does it have to have that phrase “after you have suffered a little while” in it? Can’t we do life without suffering? Want the short, accurate answer? You won’t like it, but here it is ... no. I put that in lower case letters on purpose. The fact is, you and I have gone, are going and will go through some upper case SUFFERING in this life.
WHY? It’s part of life, and asking why is too!
In case you’ve wondered about this current crisis we find ourselves in and wondered WHY, may I suggest some possibilities?
Maybe God allowed this crisis to show people who thought they were in control ... they aren’t.
Maybe God allowed this crisis to get us to realize we really are in this thing together … and get us to work together.
Maybe God allowed this crisis to give us a break from politics … and maybe stop some of the nonsense that goes along with it, at least for a little while.
Maybe God allowed this crisis to get men to wash their hands. (I’m just going to leave that one right there.)
Maybe God allowed this crisis to get us to spend more time with our families … and to realize the temporariness of the time we have with them.
It’s okay to ask God, “Why?” Just know we won’t get all the answers to all of our questions until we get to Heaven.
Maybe God allowed this crisis to get us to change the way we do business. (A lot of the changes that have been implemented are actually good things.)
Maybe God allowed this crisis to get us to stop trusting in our money, possessions, jobs, health, _______________ (you fill in the blank).
Maybe God allowed this crisis to wake up the masses of people who mistakenly believed they didn’t need Him or His church?
Maybe God allowed this crisis to stir the sleeping giant of lethargic, apathetic church members and get them back on the front lines.
Maybe God allowed this crisis to get us to honestly evaluate our own lives, repent of our sin and turn to Him.
There have already been a number of good things that have come from this incredibly bad situation. For example, I know for a fact, because of this crisis our staff has already discovered a number of things we’re doing now that we should’ve been doing all along, and that’s good.
C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures and shouts to us in our pain.” Joseph Stowell, former President of Moody Bible Institute said in suffering, “God catches our attention to reprove and rearrange our wandering hearts.’’
Has that happened to you in this crisis? Did God catch your attention and your wandering heart yet?
It’s okay to ask God, “Why?” Just know we won’t get all the answers to all of our questions until we get to Heaven. You also need to know God never wastes our pain or suffering until He’s brought out the good in it and the glory from it (Romans 8:28).
So what should we do in this current crisis? Listen, learn and lean on the Lord every day as long as we're in it and keep doing that even when we’re through it.
A wise man once said, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Instead of focusing on the pain of our suffering, we should always look for the purpose in it. This verse may help …
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
© 2020. Barry L. Cameron.
1 Bright, Bill. The Journey Home: Finishing with Joy. T. Nelson, 2003. Pg 75.
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.