A monthly column by farmer, preacher and writer for Jesus, Angus Buchan
Richard Baxter the famous theologian that lived a number of centuries ago said: “Suffering so unbolts the door of the heart, that the Word hath easier entrance.”
I have just been recovering from knee surgery and have been out of action for two weeks. If you ask my wife how it’s been (I think she is a saint), she would probably say: “It’s like trying to cage a wild animal,” because I have had a very blessed life when it comes to health and I have never had an operation before.
So personally, it has been a big test for me, especially in the area of suffering; to have the patience to lie still and not move so that my leg could heal. I realised very quickly some of the values in this life that I’ve taken for granted over so many years; that God has given me excellent health. I have been actively farming and preaching the Gospel for over 40 years, and have never had to cancel an appointment. Yet one Sunday I had to preach while sitting on a chair, which I have also never done before.
Have I learned anything out of this? Well, I remember hearing someone say that “Pain will either make you bitter or better” and I can honestly say it has made me much better. It has given me a new outlook on life. I’m now mobile and on my feet again, and I’m so excited for what the future holds.
Psalm 34:19 (NKJV) states very clearly Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
As you read this article maybe you are going through some extremely stressful times in your life; maybe economic, maybe it’s marital, or maybe it’s your health. You have a choice: either you embrace it, learn from it, and be a better man or woman after it, or you can sit in the corner and say “Woe is me. Why does it always have to happen to me?”
Yet the Lord reminds us very clearly that we have nothing to complain about because we have not lost any blood yet for our faith. Paul could say in Philippians 1:21 (NKJV), For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. We cannot frighten a Christian with Heaven. When Paul lived, he lived for Christ and when he died he went home to Heaven. When we hear about the martyrs that are dying for their faith in North Africa and in the Middle East we realise that the Lord Jesus Christ gives His saints the strength to live and indeed the strength to die. So, we should not be afraid of suffering, but what we should do is to learn from it. I must be very honest with you, I have never met a man yet worth his salt, who has not suffered to some degree or another.
You will find a man who has been through fire, is a man who is slow to speak and quick to listen. You will find that man has immense compassion for those who are going through painful situations. The hardest person to deal with is a young man or woman who has never suffered anything, or who has never been without, or who has been born into a family with much finance and has everything that he needs. He is a man who needs much prayer, because he will eventually have to come to the time of testing in his life and if he does not have Jesus Christ as his anchor and his rock, he will not make it.
In conclusion, we agree with Paul who says in Romans 5:3-4 (NKJV), And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
It is suffering that moulds a person’s character — there is no other way! Just like discipline is good for us when we misbehave. An undisciplined child can become a monster and yet a disciplined child can become the sweetest creature on earth.
Let us not be afraid of suffering because none of us will ever be called to suffer anything like our Saviour Jesus Christ, who in the Garden of Gethsemane said to His Father …not My will, but Yours, be done. (Luke 22:42)