How do you deal with temptation and trials? How do you view suffering or pain that you experience? Is the recognition of pain and suffering in the world render your belief in God futile? Does the suffering in the world seem senseless random? Why does the ‘good’ suffer while the evil prosper (Psalm 44:9-16)? As a lowly university mathematics professor let me offer an analogy from my regular experiences with students. I implore the thoughtful reader to read the scripture references; you can access a bible for free at www.youversion.com.
In the beginning of each semester, during the first class I offer the student a class vision, even if they do not have the ability to understand it. I ask them, however, to believe and put their trust in my guidance (Isaiah 55:9, John 3:12, John 6:47-51, Psalm 118:8, 1 Pet 2:6-8). You see throughout the term each student’s vision is incredibly short-sighted and cloudy (1 Cor 13:12). Indeed, they will all struggle in different ways (1 Cor 8:9-13). Often it is working with others that can make a big difference in their work (Prov 27:17), and I hope that they allow me to keep their paths straight (Prov 3:6). Oh, as my previous students can attest, they undoubtedly suffer through the work (James 2:14-26) and various tests (James 1:13, 1 Thes 3:3-5, Deut 8:2-3, Exo 20:20, Psalm 66:8-12). They are all accountable and know this! In fact, they are disciplined/graded (Deut 8:5, Rom 3:19) to provide additional instruction (Psalms 32:8). Often, students will cry out for help and I do console them (Psalm 23), however, I assure them that they are never being tested more than they can understand or bear (1 Cor 10:13). Consequently, each student is built up (2 Tim 3:16) and, thusly, learns endurance/perseverance (James 1:4). Unfortunately, some will fail, trusting that their way is simply better (Prov 3:5, Isaiah 8:15, Romans 1:21-32). They no longer listen to sound teaching and, in desperation they follow unsound paths (2 Tim 4:3-4). The take the easy road rather than the narrow path to understanding and truth (Matt 7:13). Oftentimes, the failing student becomes embittered to the success of other students (Matthew 24:10), they even make fun of the Way (John 15:18-25). In contrast, to those who have endured (2 Tim 4:7-8) they look back and realize the immeasurable good that came out of their pain, suffering, trails, and temptations (Romans 8:28). Finally, the student comes to the realization the love that I had for them (Matt 6:26) and that I longed for them to allow me to lead them and serve them in this way (Matt 23:37). In all, the semester starts with a student’s personal decision to receive (John 14:15-18), respond (John 3:16), and, subsequently, trust (John 12:35-36, Psalm 118:8).