Suffering for Good

Suffering for Good

I have a confession to make - my cats are fat.  It is funny to say this, but I know it is no laughing matter.  Years ago I went through the heartache of life with a diabetic cat, so I am very aware of the possible consequences of feline obesity.  My cats’ health is in my hands; they depend on me to do what is right for them.  I had to get tough and put them on a diet.

The cats are fed prescription diet food twice a day at 5 am and 5 pm.  This has always been our routine, it is only the quantity of food that has changed.  In the past, they always had a little food left over from the previous feeding by the next feeding time.  Not so anymore.  There are days when their food has been completely eaten for several hours before the clock strikes 5 again.

Whenever the food plate grows empty, they spring into action.  They try to coax, cajole, and coerce me into feeding them.  Sometimes they believe that I can’t understand what they need.  They try harder and harder to communicate their problem to me.  At other times they appear to doubt my goodness, thinking that I don’t care about their pain.  Possibly they think I’m angry at them; that this entire ordeal is simply meant to punish them. No matter what they think, they cannot grasp the true reason.  They have no idea that this experience is for their own good.  My sweet kitties simply cannot understand how this hardship could be the result of my love for them.

I’ve noticed a striking similarity between their behavior and human nature when we relate to God.  When we suffer pain and turmoil, it is often our reaction to think that God doesn’t hear our prayers.  Possibly we doubt whether He truly cares about our pain.  We may even convince ourselves that He is angry at us; that God is allowing our current suffering as some form of punishment.  It is easy to forget that as humans, we cannot see from the eternal vantage point.  We must remind ourselves that we serve a good God, have faith that this experience is for our own good, and trust that He allows trials in our lives because of His love for us.

In the book of Matthew, we read about Peter after he boldly stepped out of the boat to walk on water with Jesus.  Seeing the storm and waves that surrounded him, he panicked and began to sink.  But Jesus did not abandon Peter; He knew Peter’s need and was right there beside him to help at the proper time.  Jesus stretched out His hand to keep Peter from slipping beneath the troubled waters, just as He lovingly does for each of us.

And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" – Matthew 14:31 (NKJV)