The School of Suffering

Michael Beck

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There was a remarkable depth to the words that Jesus spoke which set Him apart as a minister of God.

And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught.
And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes. (Mark 1:21,22)

We communicate with authority those things we have intimately learned.

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. (John 3:11)

There is a daily instruction from God that equips us to minister to the deepest needs of those around us.

The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned. (Isaiah 50:4)

Like Jesus, all true ministers willingly “enroll” in the school of suffering.
Jesus gave Himself to His cross, knowing it was the means whereby He would become the Wisdom and Power of God.

The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back.
I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.
For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. (Isaiah 50:5-7)

Wisdom is gained through a willingness to know God in all our ways, even in the most painful.
A turning back from God at such times keeps us “unlearned” and the word of God becomes “unfruitful” in us. We don’t know how to speak a word in season to those who are weary.

Wisdom is too high for a fool: he openeth not his mouth in the gate. (Proverbs 24:7)

It is through the hardest things we face that God gives us a banner of truth to display for the benefit of others.

Thou hast shewed thy people hard things: thou hast made us to drink the wine of astonishment.
Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah. (Psalm 60:3,4)

truth > Hebrew – qoshet > from an unused root meaning to balance KJV – certainty 1, truth 1; 2

Through our obedience in today’s sorrows and griefs we are being prepared for “mission fields” God would send us to tomorrow. As we give our ear to hear what God would teach us in the long and hard “classrooms” of our life, we eventually become “teachers of good things” to others (Titus 2:3.) His word is “fitted in our lips.”

Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge. For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips. That thy trust may be in the LORD, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee.
Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge,
That I might make thee know the certainty (qoshet) of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee? (Proverbs 22:17-21)

God has places for us to be in, for His purposes, where we would rather not be.
We seek a pleasant present; He wants us to have a blessed eternity. We become angry and sorrowful over the way things are now, seldom realizing how much opportunity is before us to see God glorified in our life.

It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.
For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity. Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad; and a gift destroyeth the heart.
Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools. (Ecclesiastes 7:2-9)

God is always “up to something good” in the lives of His children. We rarely know all God is up to in a present situation; but as we continue to walk with Him through it, we “know hereafter.”

Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. (John 13:7)

Mary and Martha were disappointed and confounded by the response of Christ to their request to come to the aid of their brother. We have questions we want answers to. We want to know the reason behind things. But God asks us to wait in faith, believing that ultimately we will not be confounded or ashamed by His decisions and actions.

Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. (John 11:32)

Though we are presently perplexed, as He did with Job, God will eventually “answer” us.
We will see and understand the “big picture” and we will rejoice in all God was doing.
We dare not “jump to conclusions” or charge God foolishly of being anything less than an always good and loving Father.

He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him. (Proverbs 18:13)

Job came to realize that his previous thoughts and words arose out of his anguish and pain, and were “without knowledge.”

Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. (Job 42:3)

Job’s pain blinded him as to how God would use him as an example to all future generations of faithfulness and patience in great trial.

Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.
Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.
Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. (James 5:7-11)

All that Job failed to learn through His suffering, Jesus did.
His ear toward God fitted Him to be the perfect Minister to all who would learn from Him in their trials.

Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec. (Hebrews 5:8-10)

God promotes those who successfully “graduate” from the school of suffering to the highest positions in His kingdom.

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Revelation 3:20-22)

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.