It is hard for me to think (right now at least) that suffering isn’t a hinderance. It sure seems like it was (or is). Suffering certainly caused a disruption (to life, to gospel ministry, to growth of young believers even).
Suffering is usually seen as a roadblock. An obstacle to the goal. A hazard that causes a detour, something that “sets us back”.
Reading through Matthew, coming to chapter 16, I see again, that God has a different take on suffering. Why this theme is showing up everywhere I am reading, I’m not sure (actually, I know exactly why).
“From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Matthew 16:21-23
Peter rebukes Jesus for speaking about suffering. Jesus says he (Peter) has his mind on the things of man not on the things of God.
Apparently, the “things of God” have suffering at the forefront, a tool that is used to bring about God’s end purpose.
Not a roadblock. Not an obstacle. Not a set back.
Add to that, today I was also reading in Acts 16. Paul tried to enter Asia and then Bithynia, but the Spirit directed otherwise. Bluntly, God closed the doors to both locations (we don’t know how or even why).
Later Paul would go to Ephesus (probably where he intended to go when we read in verse 6 “Asia”), but we don’t know if he did make it to Bithynia (although the gospel did because Peter addresses believers from there in his first letter).
In some way, for some reason, God did not allow Paul to go where he intended, yet God accomplished his purpose.
I am learning (and have so far to go in this) that God gets things done; but it will not look like my way of getting things done. God has his own timeline.
Suffering isn’t the hinderance, my faulty thinking is (like Peter)!
Father, again you are speaking directly to me through a reading plan. I am not going and looking for these passages, but you are jumping right off the page and speaking truth to my heart (and mind). Thank you for your Word! Work in my heart so that I would be set on things of God! Help me to realize that suffering is not a hinderance; help my heart to align with your ways so that you receive honor and glory. I am not there (alignment), but you are taking me there — oh what a slow pain-staking process…praise you for your patience with a hard-headed child, though a child, thank you Jesus for securing my adoption!!