Whatever flood you’re facing, whatever loss you’ve endured, whatever sickness or strain or hurt or pain the Lord has brought into your life, please know, dear saint, that he has tailored it just for you. God wastes nothing—not even your affliction—but means to do you everlasting good in every movement of Providence.
Dear brother or sister, are you in the valley? Has the grey cloud of pain and uncertainty been hovering above you? Has a sword pierced your heart and driven you to despair?
If you’re in the pit of affliction, then I hope this truth will be a ray of light and comfort from heaven: Your God tailors your trials just for you.
With his kind and sovereign hand, God designs your pain and hardship precisely for you. Your Father is not some Olympian Zeus hurling lightning bolts aimlessly at the earth below. He is not arbitrary, unfeeling, or aimless in his distribution of severe mercy. No, your faithful Shepherd knows you, knows your need, and knows how to bless you better than you do yourself. He skillfully threads every moment of your life – including your suffering – into perfectly tailored, righteous robes (Rev 19:8). God is precise in afflicting you because God knows everything about you, and his purposes in your pain are good and unfailing.
To prove my point, and I hope to bring you glorious peace in your storm, let me show you four reasons that God tailors your trials for you according to the Scriptures.
God Tailors Your Trials To Teach You
The Puritans often spoke of “the school of suffering,” casting God as their divine teacher whose lessons are often more painful than we’d prefer. But the obedience and knowledge those lessons produce, according to Psalm 119, far outweigh the price we pay in tears.
“You have dealt well with your servant, O LORD, according to your word.
Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments.
Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word…
It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.
The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.”
Psalm 119:65-67, 71-72
Oh, how we wish we could learn without the rod! But God knows that discipline is often necessary for sinners like us to “yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Heb 12:11). Notice how the psalmist, in retrospect, sees how he “went astray” before his affliction, and how his prayer for God to “teach me good judgment and knowledge” was answered in his affliction. How blessed to learn this hard truth before our suffering, that we might say in the midst of our pain “it is good for me that I was afflicted!”
And what, ultimately, does affliction teach us? Countless truths about God, his faithfulness, his tenderness, and his love, to be sure. But notice what the psalmist learned through his affliction: “The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.” God afflicts us to teach us the value of his Word. Treasuring God’s Word is not only better than money, but it’s also better than not suffering. God sends bitter winds to chill us so that we might seek warmth by the fire of his Word. In his wisdom, God allows pain to enter our lives so that he might teach us to trust his Word.
God Tailors Your Trials To Humble You
It’s not always the case that God sends storms to confront a Jonah’s pride, but sometimes that’s exactly his design. Take, for instance, the apostle Paul’s explanation of his thorn in the flesh:
“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.”
2 Corinthians 12:7
Whatever you conclude the thorn in the flesh to be (a physical malady, a false teacher, or an imprisonment), Paul knows that it is from God and for him – it was “given to me.” And, apparently, Paul knew why God gave it to him: “to keep me from becoming conceited.” In fact, this purpose of God in Paul’s affliction is so important that he says it twice! And Paul begs Christ three times for its removal, only to be told, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). In God’s wise plan, he gave Paul both an exalted spiritual experience and a painful thorn. God guarded Paul against pride with pain.