If you are suffering, it may be that God is working things out for you in his own way. It is most often the sovereign work of our God unfolding a master plan known only to him. Through all the suffering of God’s people, he is at work. Study your Bible, and you will discover these same patterns in the lives of all of God’s people. In case after case, when God began to fulfill his promise, the roof seemed to cave in first!
Think of Daniel and the three Hebrew children. They gave themselves to a life of holiness and separation from the world and all its pleasures. Daniel pledged himself to a life of prayer, tears and intercession, but what did that get him and his three friends? Testing just before victory.
You don’t go from the prayer closet to some mountaintop victory; you go to the lions’ den. You don’t go from consecration to a life of ease and blessing only; you go to the fiery furnace. These men were not afraid to face pain and suffering, because they knew it always ended in God having his way.
Think of Elijah. God gave him a glorious promise of a spiritual awakening in the land, an outpouring of abundant rain and a new day of victory for God’s people. Look at all the confusion that broke out after the promise was given. Jezebel threatened his life, chasing him into hiding in the mountains. Wicked forces killed the prophets of God, and the land continued in wickedness and drought.
Can you imagine how confused Elijah must have been? “What kind of answered prayer is this? I’m left all on my own. Where is the Lord? Has his promise failed?” All the while God was doing exactly what he said he would do. The confusion would soon pass and the answer would be forthcoming.
Christ left his disciples a promise that could have seen them through all the confusion and pain, but they were too broken up in sorrow to remember. He had told them, “After I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee” (Matthew 26:32, NKJV). In other words, “Don’t try to figure it all out. Don’t question the time of confusion. It’s not your battle. God is at work! When this is all over, I will still be going before you. Your shepherd will still be there.” What an encouraging word!