This is the thing that I've been thinking through today. My devotional this morning was along these lines. I know that the devil (and unfortunately some denominations) would like us to believe that "if you suffer ... it's because your faith is weak" or "if you have problems... you must not be right with God". I know at times in my life I have struggled with that very thought. I found myself today as I mulled this thought in my mind thinking back to the word of the Lord in Job 1:8, "have you considered my servant Job?". I must admit that the life of Job blows away those 2 arguments. The Lord tells us that Job "fears God and shuns evil"... sounds like Job had his act together (even if his friends would tell us otherwise), but yet he suffered... much more than I have (or ever hope to). Even Christ himself suffered (again more than I ever hope to) in Heb 5 (and v 8 specifically) it says that "He learned obedience by the things which He suffered." ... maybe that's what all our suffering is about... maybe, just maybe, we are struggling with obedience to God. Maybe he's trying to get our attention, like the gentle and patient Shepherd that He is. Maybe He is trying to teach us something about ourselves (what we can handle or do with His help). One thing is for certain ... He wants to teach us about Himself... that we can trust Him always to be there .. in the good and the bad, through thick and thin. He is always present and cheering us on!