It’s simply not possible for a spiritual person to handle deep hurt and great loss in your life without these two mental categories: that God is absolutely sovereign over every situation and that, though He has a will for my life, I can choose to disobey and do so regularly. Knowing God as sovereign and in control, regardless of circumstance, gives us peace in the greatest, horrific experiences of life. Knowing God as a God who commands, commends and entreats His will for our good, which we, in sin, break, reveals our moment-by-moment, profound need that we have for Him.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2

Is it the will of God that we get cancer, are abused, suffer injury, and endure horrible situations? How do we discern what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God? We get glimpses of God’s perfect will in creation and see it as clear as we can this side of heaven, in Jesus. However, we spend most of our time in His acceptable will, walking out our sanctification with fleshly struggles experiencing daily joys as well as difficulties.

No, it’s not God’s good will to see His children suffer, whatever the cause. We see throughout scripture where He proclaims that the results of the fall grieve and anger Him, and that mankind’s sin quenches of the Spirit of God. However, nothing happens short of God’s perfect, sovereign will where, even in the midst of such horrific suffering, we can know that, “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Without this knowledge, we have no hope. I’ve seen countless “Christians” crumble in the middle of difficult times because their faith is based on temporal gain instead of eternal purpose. They’ve attributed all pleasant circumstances to God and painful ones to the devil instead of understanding that while evil exists and pain and death seem to prevail, the victory has already been won and I will experience it in eternity, not here on earth. They’ve trusted in God to achieve a temporal end, however they’ve defined their wishes, instead of surrender to His will to bring Him glory. They’ve seen God as their “giver” of gifts, fulfiller of dreams, and granter of wishes, and when circumstances fail, they have no mental category for suffering.

May we come to know all sides of God’s will. May we know Him, experience Him, in His heart-broken mercy through our pain as well as His sovereign strength to see us through to the other side.

Jesus is our absolutely sovereign king, Lord of lords and King of kings; nothing comes to pass in this world, both that which we call “good” and that we define as “evil”, apart from the dispositions and the decrees of King Jesus. And, let us also experience Jesus as our sympathetic High Priest who comes in alongside us, holds us, hugs us, grieves with us and cries over us when we suffer.

We can trust Him in His perfect, sovereign purposes even through suffering while we, and even more so when we, climb up and snuggle in His arms. I implore you that it is only through this real, experiential knowing of God that we may both trust in and find comfort in the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.

The Purification of Suffering 1