Seriously? Why did that just happen?

We just started a new series titled, "4 Things I Wish You Knew About God." The big idea is: The more we know about God, the better life will be (purpose, fulfillment, joy, etc).

And let's be honest, we all want to know more about God. Who is he? Where is he? What is he like? So, over the next few weeks, we're going to dive into a few BIG theological words that are designed to help us wrap our minds around the nature of God.

For example:
Omnipresent: God is all-present.
Omnipotent: God is all-powerful.

One of the most common questions we have for God is "WHY?" Basically, why did (fill in the blank with any bad moment) happen? Have you ever tried to figure that one out?

Some would argue that if God is really present and powerful, then suffering should not exist.

I'm sure that the church in Thessalonica was no exception. They struggled through a terrible persecution. In fact, Paul writes to them during their suffering and says:

Dear brothers and sisters, we can't help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing. We proudly tell God's other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering. And God will use this persecution to show his justice and to make you worthy of his kingdom, for which you are suffering.
- 2 Thessalonians 1:3-5, NLT

Paul looks at suffering from a different angle. He reminds the church (and us) that God can actually accomplish some good in the midst of bad. Here are a few points to consider when we're tempted to give up and throw our hands in the air.

1. Suffering can produce an amazing testimony. Through the hardship, their "faith is flourishing" and Paul proudly tells others about their endurance. How you handle (fill in the blank) can be an amazing testimony of God's provision and power to your family, your co-workers and your church. (See also: 2 Timothy 1:8-9.)

2. Suffering can produce patience. Perseverance isn't just our ability to wait out the problem. Rather, it's our willingness to endure through it while also trusting in God's provision. (See also: James 1:2-8.)

3. Suffering can produce strength. Muscles grow when they're put under tremendous, often painful, stress. Suffering will either make us or break us. If we accept the situation and have the faith to look to God, then this (fill in the blank) will cause growth. If we resist, complain or give up on God, then nothing is gained. (See also: Romans 5:3-5.)

Make no mistake about it, He is present (omnipresent) AND powerful (omnipotent) enough to provide. It's nice to know that even in my greatest pain, He has a plan.

Jimmy McIlrath