Here is a passage of Scripture from Acts 4:23-31:
“When they were released they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and elders had said to them. And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, ‘Why do the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his ‘Anointed’–for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Ponitus Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”
This is a pretty incredible prayer. And its in the midst of this prayer that we see what the apostles and early believers believed about suffering. They saw suffering as a part of God’s sovereign plan. They acknowledged God’s sovereignty over creation and nature, God’s sovereignty over the suffering of Jesus (quoting from Psalm 2), and God’s sovereignty over the suffering that they were facing from the religious leaders of their day!
Think about this…if God is sovereign over our suffering then our suffering must be purposeful. It is not just some random occurrence or just happenstance. Wherever you are and whatever you are going through, God is sovereign! Stay the course, beat on His chest, and know that He is intimately aware of what you are going through and your circumstances. And He can totally relate!
By the way, I have the privilege of attending the Catalyst conference in Atlanta, Georgia tomorrow and Friday. I look forward to sharing with you about the experience.