I have a question about the following verses:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith; of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire, may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”(1Peter 1:6,7)
These two verses always used to back why God allows suffering in a believer’s life. When you wrote about Job, you said God doesn’t cause us to suffer arbitrarily, but when we have unconfessed sins in our lives and are out of fellowship, He, being perfectly just, has to allow Satan to torment us. So I don’t understand the true meaning of the verses and they distress me. What is the right perspective?
Many people use these verses in a general way to explain all the illness and suffering we experience. But think about it. Why would James tell us in chapter 1 to consider it pure joy when we get sick or injured and then tell us in chapter 5 that God will heal us if we ask Him? Are we supposed to believe that God gave us the illness to build our perseverance, but that He’ll deliver us from it if we ask Him to? That doesn’t make sense.
In a general sense, there are two factors in the world that cause illness and suffering. One is that the world is in a fallen state and evil abounds here.
The other is that humans are sinful and are therefore open to affliction by the enemy when we don’t confess. God is not the cause of either of these conditions. But He will heal us when we ask in faith and He will forgive us and turn our torment into a blessing when we confess our sins.
It’s true that persecution for righteousness sake brings blessing. (Matt. 5:10) This is the only type of trial that builds our faith, and this is what James and Peter were talking about, not general suffering. But even the faith-building kind is not brought upon us by God, but by Satan, and wouldn’t be allowed if we were not sinful beings living in a sinful world. That’s something that living in the Millennium will teach us.