Why Must We Suffer
- Psalm 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
- John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
- Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
What beautiful promises and words of truth. Our Heavenly Father loves us and has promised us wonderful things.
Then why do we have problems? Why do we suffer?
God blesses us in so many ways. Some of these blessings don’t look or feel like blessings when they come in the form of pain and problems. But God has a plan and is accomplishing His purposes in our lives.
Here are four primary reasons God either causes or allows His children to experience suffering.
- Perfecting – As Christians, we are subjected to a process called sanctification. This is a growth process whereby we become more and more like Christ over time. We never achieve perfection this side of heaven, but God is working in our lives to shape us into the person He wants us to be. Part of sanctification is suffering (we learn by going through difficult experiences).
- James 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
- 1 Peter 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
- Proving – God tests us: not because He doesn’t know the outcome, but so that we see the results of faith in our lives. Each time we ‘pass’ a test, our faith is increased and we are reminded of our dependence on Him. Some tests are very difficult and are revealed in our lives in the form of suffering.
- Psalm 11:5 The Lord trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.
- Psalm 26:2 Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.
- Punishing – We all sin. As our loving Father, God punishes our sin for several reasons: to show His perfection and intolerance of sin; to show His love for us; and to show that there are consequences for our sin. Suffering is often a result of sin (sometime ours, sometime those we love).
- Proverbs 3:11-12 My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction: 12 For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.
- Galatians 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
- Participating – In some situations our suffering is a great honor. The world hates Christ. The world subjected Christ to tremendous suffering during His life on earth. As His disciples, as His ambassadors here on earth, sometimes we have the privilege of sharing in His suffering. Although this is actually a reward, it is still suffering and can be very difficult.
- John 15:18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
- 1 Peter 4:12-13 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
Reflecting on these truths may bring some perspective during difficult times. However, suffering is never easy (if it isn’t painful, it isn’t suffering). Trusting in God’s sovereignty and knowing He loves us and desires only the best for us can help us endure during these tough times. No matter how bad it may seem today, God promises that we have rewards in this life and a wonderful future in Heaven with Him.
- Mark 10:29-30 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, 30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
Dear Lord, may I never forget that any suffering in my life is within Your control and part of Your plan for me. Your plans are perfect. Help me to remember this when I feel sorry for myself and want to give up. Give me strength to endure. Yet beyond enduring, help me to learn and change and grow and appreciate as a result of my suffering. You suffered and died for me. May I suffer honorably as Your child. I pray in the name of Christ my Lord and Savior. Amen.