Read 1 Peter 1:6-7
6 So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead,even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold-though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials,it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. (NLT)
When faced with testing times,we may come to one of two conclusions. One is that things simply happen in a random way. We are at the mercy of fickle fate. Another is that God sends such tests to us in order to teach us a lesson or two. From a Christian point of view there is not much to be said for the first conclusion. The second conclusion seems a bit more ‘biblical’ but it has its dangers.
True,God does discipline us for our good,and there can even be times when we bring affliction on ourselves and learn painful lessons from them. But we can never make God the source of evil or suffering. Do we really think God gives a child cancer in order to whip the parents’ faith into shape? Or do we conclude that such things happen in our out-of-shape world and God stands by to work good out of it: one such good might be the strengthening of faith?
I might suffer,not because God is inflicting this suffering on me,but because I live in a fallen world. It is not as if God is somehow deciding how to teach me a lesson by sending a certain hardship on me. It is more a case of God allowing hardship to come upon me and coming alongside me to help me learn and grow in whatever way is best. He is a wise teacher who knows we learn through adversity,not a cosmic sadist who delights in imposing adversity on us.
Our suffering is neither random nor God-inflicted. It happens to us and to all. But for the follower of Jesus,it happens under God’s watchful,loving eye. Nothing is random,nothing is wasted. All things,good,bad,or indifferent,can be used by him for our good and his glory.