Suffering Is a Blessing
Therefore the LORD brought upon them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria, who captured Manasseh with hooks and bound him with chains of bronze and brought him to Babylon. (2 Chr. 33:11)
There is an interesting story found in 2 Chronicles 33, and it’s the story of Manasseh ascending to the throne of Judah (southern Israel). We are told there that Manasseh was a horrible king, very wicked. He did everything he was not supposed to do, and nothing he should have done. “He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD” (v.2). The result is that we are told that God caused the army of Assyria to invade the kingdom of Judah and capture Manasseh and lead him away in chains to Babylon. But then we are told that when Manasseh “was in distress, he entreated the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God” (vv.12-13). God brought physical misery and suffering into his life and Manasseh humbled himself before God, turned to the Lord, and came to recognize that the LORD is God. While suffering in this life is not always the punishment of God for sins (e.g., Job), suffering always has the effect of turning our attention toward God. It causes us to look within ourselves and ask the question, ‘Is there something wrong in my life?’ ‘Is there some sin I need to repent from?’ Asking these sort of questions is never a bad thing. We should always be examining our own lives and seeing whether or not we are walking in line with God’s word, whether we are walking with the Spirit or resisting the Holy Spirit. In short, suffering is really a blessing, be it spiritual, emotional, or physical anguish, because it forces us to look outside of ourselves, to look to God for aid, comfort, and strength. Without suffering we would have no need for God.
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