Matt Moore on Might It be Better for Christians to Suffer?

It’s right to ask God for relief from sickness, financial problems, loneliness, depression, and every other shape and shade of pain. We see people doing this throughout the Bible. Sometimes God grants relief (2 Corinthians 1:10), sometimes he doesn’t (2 Corinthians 12:9). But he never criticizes anyone for asking. I’d even argue that he’s pleased when we ask, because our asking shows that we see him as both powerful enough to deliver us and kind enough to actually consider our requests.

Yet oftentimes God’s lovingkindness may be the very thing that causes him to delay or even withhold deliverance. Because as much as the Lord doesn’t take pleasure in our affliction (Lamentations 3:33), there are things he wants for us more than the alleviation of our pain–things like our humble dependence on his grace and our happiness in his Son. And whether or not we like it, these realities are usually most manifest in us when we suffer, not when we’re at ease. Easy living is rarely conducive to spiritual vitality.

That’s proven true in my life, at least.

I recently experienced a season of significant relief from a particular form of suffering. A year and a half ago I began taking medication to help alleviate the symptoms of my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Upon finding the right medication and dosage, my symptoms diminished greatly. During this process I also met my now-wife, Talitha. Her companionship lifted the burden of loneliness I had carried for nearly a decade. And loneliness, as many of you know, tends to exacerbate other sufferings. So the combination of medication and this new relationship provided me much relief from my anxieties. For the first time in a long time, I felt good. Really good.

And this is where I should talk about how grateful I was to the Lord and how dynamic and fruitful my life in Christ became, right? Wish I could.

In the past I had prayed, “God, if my mind wasn’t so overtaken with OCD, it would be more free to love you and be utilized for you.” So many times I thought and said to others, “I just want these thoughts to be gone so that I can focus on God.” I believed my OCD was a massive hindrance to my relationship with the Lord and that it’s removal would bring new strength to my spiritual life.

But when relief finally came, my response proved the opposite to be true.

Before the relief came, I opened the Bible multiple times a day with a sense of urgency to receive encouragement and empowerment from the Lord. I felt how incapable I was of getting through the day on my own, much less getting through it in a way that was pleasing to God and beneficial to others. I pleaded with God throughout the day to help me believe his words and to help me walk in his grace. In my leisure time I read books that strengthened my faith and listened to sermons and sought out soul-nourishing fellowship with other believers.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Matt Moore