February 21, Wednesday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Comfort in Suffering”

Genesis 47:13

 Now there was no food in all the land, for the famine was very severe, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished by reason of the famine.

All Christians experience suffering—whether it be in the past, present, or in the future.  But just because we experience suffering as we await the redemption of our bodies, it doesn’t mean that our suffering is random or without purpose. And neither does it mean that Scripture doesn’t tell us how to think about our suffering now.  Tim Keller, in Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, puts it like this:

No matter what precautions we take, no matter how well we have put together a good life, no matter how hard we have worked to be healthy, wealthy, comfortable with friends and family, and successful with our career — something will inevitably ruin it.  While other worldviews lead us to sit in the midst of life’s joys, foreseeing the coming sorrows, Christianity empowers its people to sit in the midst of this world’s sorrows, tasting the coming joy.”

For two years, the famine has been severe in Egypt and Canaan (45:5). All private reserves of wheat have been exhausted, and all the money of Egypt and Canaan had been spent in buying government grain from Joseph. And the famine lingered on and on. In desperation the Egyptians approached Joseph, reminding him of their plight.  It was a time of hardship and suffering for these nations.

Are you experiencing hardships?  If so, how are you handing it?  We can have hope in our suffering because we know that Christ redeems our suffering for His good.  We can have hope because we know suffering prepares Christians for more glory. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:17–18, “This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

If you are going through a season of hardship, be encouraged that it is not in vain.  God has a purpose for it in your life.  Pray that you will remain steadfast and hopeful.

Prayer:  Lord, give me the strength to go through hardships with an eternal perspective.  May my faith and joy grow during these seasons of my life.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Joshua 6


Lunch Break Study

Read James 1:2-4: Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Questions to Consider  

  1. Why does James say we can experience joy in the midst of trials?
  2. What do trials produce?
  3. How do you see God working in the hardships you face?

Notes

  1. We are to consider what we are going through as a matter of joy, not because the thing itself is something that is pleasurable, but because tribulation works patience within us. Our suffering is not an exercise in futility. God has a purpose, and that purpose is always good. We can count all things joy because God is working in all situations, even the most painful, for our sanctification and ultimate glorification.
  2. The word translated as “testing” occurs rarely in the Bible, appearing only three other times. In this case, “testing” deals with purification through trial. God wants our faith to grow, and often He will use trials to do that.
  3. Personal application.

Evening Reflection

Spend time in personal prayer.   Ask the Lord to speak to you on the things you read and meditated on today.

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