“But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived.” (Ezekiel 20:9a)
“Temptation,” as you know, is a term that could point to any kind of trouble or adversity. One kind of trouble is temptation to sin. When you get down to it, all trouble is a temptation to the sin of unbelief! And the “faith” way could be an escape from that trouble or strength to bear up under it, as the passage assures us. Either way, more profitable than trying to identify the source of your problem, it may help to focus on the purpose God has in permitting it or sending it.
- To bring erring children back to the right way (Psalm 119:67,71; Hebrews 12:5-11).
- God may punish an erring child as a warning or example to others to be careful (1 Corinthians 10:11).
- Sometimes God allows hard times to get us to go somewhere or do something we otherwise might not consider (Acts 4:8; Matthew 10:23).
- Suffering prepares a person to help others (1 Corinthians 1:3,4).
Sometimes it’s difficult to be truly comforted by one who hasn’t suffered. Suffering is God’s great tenderizer.
If you have difficulty in deciding what purpose God has in mind for sending or permitting a particular adversity, it may be that we need to consider the most important purposes in suffering. Sometimes those listed above are God’s reason, but often those purposes are difficult to sort out, as you may have discovered. There are two purposes, however, that are always present in every trial. It is simpler to concentrate on those!
- God’s Glory
- My Growth
When you respond to trouble with childlike confidence in God, people see it and give God the credit, either when they see a miraculous deliverance (John 9:2,3) or when they see miraculous strength in the midst of suffering (1 Corinthians 12:7-10). Suffering always has that purpose- the glory of God. Consider Ezekiel 20:9; “But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made myself known.” (See also verses 14, 22, 33, 39).
Suffering also has the purpose of growing me up into Christ’s own likeness — the fast track on the spiral up. Do we live for ourselves or for others? Circumstance in our life is designed to make us more like Jesus.