Stripes that wound scour away evil, and strokes reach the innermost parts. (Proverbs 20:30)
We all wonder what the purpose of evil might be, especially when it afflicts us. Why would a loving and powerful God allow evil to continue on earth? Why is there so much suffering for those who love God and want to serve Him? Why do “bad things” happen to “good people”?
These are questions that have been raised by God-loving Christians for centuries, and no one knows the answers for sure. For the mind of God does not work like human mind. His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are beyond our comprehension. (Isa.55:8-9). Our only sources of hope are His character and His promises. We know that we can take His promises to the bank!
However, God has revealed to us a lot about suffering. It is the suffering of Christ that reveals the heart of God and His purposes for the humankind. Jesus, the ultimate human, the only begotten Son of God, did not live an easy, comfortable, and luxurious life. Jesus, the ultimate model for humanity, the perfect and sinless Son of God, “learned obedience from the things which He suffered.” (Heb.5:8).
Pain and suffering have a tremendous power in taming the flesh, in removing the stains of wickedness, which are inherent to the fallen human condition. Pain, suffering, and the Lord’s discipline humble the flesh, destroy self-reliance, wipe away idols, and “scour away evil” from one’s soul. Through pain and suffering we come to know in our “innermost parts” the futility of our former life and the targets of our desires. We realize that we cannot count on anyone or anything to rescue us from the pit we are in. We recognize the falsehood of our former idols. We cry out for help, but no one is selfless enough or powerful enough to save us from our hell.
That is when, by God’s grace, our knees will be bent, our hearts will surrender, and our souls will long for God. That is when we realize that there is no name under heaven but Christ’s by which we can be saved, and that salvation is indeed from the LORD. (Acts 4:12; Jonah 2:9).
Yes, dear Christian! Stripes that wound, pierce, and leave a mark, will change us forever. They soften our hearts, and tame our will. They open our eyes to the greatness of God, and to the pettiness of our former idols. The stripes remind us of the scourging that Jesus bore for our sins so that we might be redeemed. It is only through the “fellowship of His suffering” that we will come to experience the power of His resurrection; and by being conformed to His death, we will be born again of His Life. (Phil.3:10-11). So, “consider it all joy my brethren, when you encounter various trials,” for no stripes passing through the fingers of God are without a grand purpose! (James 1:2).