January 29, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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Life is hard—the fatal diagnosis from the doctor, the paperwork ending your marriage, the conversation with your boss who tells you to pack your things, the adult child who keeps you awake at night with worry, and on and on. What’s the point?
You may be experiencing something like this or something even worse. You may have heard from a friend that God is punishing you. You may feel like God is silent or apathetic to your pain. None of these responses are helpful or biblical.
First of all, we’re so sorry for any suffering you’re currently enduring. There’s no perfect answer to why you’re suffering and when it will end, but please know that suffering has a purpose. Here are some explanations and thoughts to help inspire, comfort, and spark hope in you.
The concept of suffering is not one that’s foreign to our Savior, Jesus Christ. On the contrary, it’s inevitable. For Jesus, He knew He’d have to suffer when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before He died. “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39 NIV). His death on the cross allowed us to have a relationship with God. His glorious resurrection was a part of God’s plan all along.
Suffering was not a part of God’s original design, but because of Adam and Eve’s first sin, we’re all susceptible to the effects of sin, and death. But God had a plan. Suffering is not the end of our story. Jesus guaranteed His followers they’d have trouble in this world and then said, “But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV).
This is the pattern we see over and over again in the Bible. Every hero endured and overcame a difficult trial. For example, let’s take a look at Moses. As a baby, he was given away during a mass genocide. He was found by an Egyptian princess and, although he was a foreigner, he was raised as royalty. As a young man, he committed murder. He ran away and spent decades in the desert, where he eventually encountered God—the GREAT I AM—in the burning bush. Moses was then called to lead God’s people out of slavery from the family that raised him. He experienced the plagues, which increased in severity and which God used to demonstrate His power and sovereignty. When it seemed like there was no way forward, Moses led God’s people into freedom through the Red Sea. For years after, they wandered in the desert, and Moses never did enter the Promised Land. Talk about suffering! Moses’ life was marked by it. But his suffering had purpose—to free the entire nation of Israel and to give God glory. It was God who showed up faithfully throughout his life, and He shows up faithfully throughout ours, too.
When everything is going well in life, it’s easy to forget about God because we don’t need Him. All around the world, people have great needs and experience so much suffering—and these people are the most receptive to God. God is sovereign, faithful, good, loving, powerful, and kind. As we suffer, He draws close to us. He is our Redeemer. He specializes in taking hurting people and broken things and making them beautiful. We all want a miracle, but we don’t want to be in a position to need a miracle. In our suffering, we need to wait until God shows up and does something about it! God redeems all of it, and He provides comfort, strength, peace, and patience in the midst of it all.
As we see in Moses’ life, his suffering made a way for God’s people to be free. In the same way, our suffering can be used for others. Oftentimes, in areas where we’ve overcome a difficult situation, we’re able to comfort others who are going through similar experiences. It’s been said that our test becomes our testimony. The New Testament writers explore this topic of suffering at length. And what do they reveal? Suffering is a litmus test to the strength and genuineness of our faith (1 Peter 1:3–7) and it produces perseverance, character, and hope (Romans 5:1–5). Perseverance also develops character and brings maturity (James 1:2–3,12). And best of all, because of Jesus, in the end all our suffering will give way to a joy beyond anything we could ever imagine
Whatever season you find yourself in, we hope and pray you’re prepared and encouraged for whatever is to come. But we also want you to know you don’t have to suffer alone! If you’re struggling, need prayer, or just need someone to talk to, please contact us at 954-977-9673.