Chosen—To Suffer?

Recently, I read a book by Max Lucado titled It’s Not About Me. In Chapter 12, he talks about the missionaries, Martin and Gracia Burnham, who were held hostage in the Philippine jungle for 400 days in 2001. Then, during an attempted rescue, he was shot to death and she was injured. They had served the Lord in the Philippines for 17 years. Why didn’t God protect them?

Elisabeth Elliot’s husband and four other young missionaries who were trying to communicate the Gospel to the Auca Indians in Ecudador, were killed by them in 1956. Why did God allow this tragedy to happen to such godly men who were trying to help them?

I’m writing a novel about a teen whose parents are killed on their way home from a mission trip to Ecuador. The 15-year-old girl asks, “But how can I trust God when he let this happen to people who were serving him? What’s the point of that?” How could a good God take away her loving parents—especially when they were so committed to him, serving him by helping others?

Her aunt replies, “This is a question many people down through the ages have asked. We may never know the answer. However, God is holy and righteous. Because Jesus died in our place and rose again, we can know God loves us and is able to use evil for good in our lives.” She stood up and hugged her niece again and nuzzled her face in her hair as she said, “I’m certain God loves us.”

Yes, many have tragedies. Heartbreak, broken marriages, crib deaths, incapacitating illnesses and injuries, and premature deaths of loved ones are some examples. All these happen to Christians as well as non-Christians. Why, God?

Max Lucado continues his chapter twelve by explaining that our pain has a purpose. In the account of the man born blind, The disciples asked ‘Why,’ and Jesus said “This happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life” (John  9:1-3 NIV). We might say his blindness was a call from God. And when Jesus ignored a request to come heal his good friend, Lazarus, he told his disciples, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” (John 11:4 NIV).

Another type of tragedy is the senseless killing of Christians so rampant in so many Middle Eastern, African and Indian countries. Yet it has been said, “The blood of the Martyrs is the seed of the church.” In the newsletters of many ministries, I often read about many people coming to salvation in Christ through the witness of one of those martyrs.

Have you been chosen to suffer for the glory of God? — for the glory of Jesus Christ? Could your cancer or widowhood be an assignment from heaven? Can you use your problems for the glory of God? God can work in your life for His glory.


Judith Vander Wege, 02-02-24

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