Times of suffering change the way we look at life.
What kind of change does suffering bring to us? Does it make us bitter? or Does it make us better?
When we’re going through hard times, it is difficult to “always look on the bright side of life.”
What does suffering do to us? Does it lead us away from the Lord? or Does it bring us closer to him?
Everyone has their own answer to these questions. Some people say, “That’s me finished with God.” Others say, “This has been hard, but it’s brought me closer to the Lord.”
In Exodus 3:7-8, we read about God’s response to Israel’s suffering in Egypt: “I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians.”
What are we to make of the Israel’s exodus from Egypt?
It was followed by forty years in the wilderness. At the end of the forty years, it was not good news for the older generation – “The Lord’s anger burned against Israel and he made them wander in the wilderness for forty years, until the whole generation of those who had done evil in his sight was gone” (Numbers 32:13); “No one from this evil generation shall see the good land I swore to give your ancestors” (Deuteronomy 1:35).
Was there a bigger picture for Israel? Is there a bigger picture for us?
“The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8 But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments” (Deuteronomy 7:7-9).
God didn’t abandon his purpose. The people of Israel did enter the promised land.
The second generation entered the promised land. Is this the big picture? – Yes and No!
Yes! God’s purpose was bigger than the generation that left Egypt.
No! God’s purpose went far beyond the generation that entered the promised land: “he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments” (Deuteronomy 7:9).
A thousand generations! – What does this have to say to us?
In Hebrews 11:10, God’s Word speaks to us about “looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”
In Hebrews 11:16, we read about “longing for a better country – a heavenly one.”
In Hebrews 12:22, we read about “coming to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.”
Hebrew 13:14 tells us that “here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.”
God is leading us on to something much more wonderful than a promised land, here on earth. He’s leading us on to his heavenly and eternal glory – and he’s assuring us that our suffering will come to an end.
Beyond our suffering, there will be God’s glory.