Why does God allow suffering?
Suffering is tough. No one likes it. Most people fear it. Because we live in a fallen world, no one can avoid it. It always seems to come out of the blue, lightning fast. One day you’re fine—the next day you’re in the midst of a catastrophe.
I know suffering.
In my life B.C. (before Christ) I suffered from extreme oppression. The enemy was after me. I knew he was trying to destroy me. Like Goliath tormenting the Israelites, his voice was the first thing I heard in the morning and the last thing I heard at night. Sometimes all night. For years I suffered in silence, convinced I was losing my mind, and certain if I told anyone, they would think me crazy.
For years I kept my suffering to myself. I lost weight. I couldn’t sleep at night. I endured horrible panic attacks. The only place I found any relief was at my oldest sister’s house. Finally, my sister Jane shared the Gospel with me and I accepted Christ as my Savior.
The debilitating oppression was replaced by the peace and strength of God. Amen.
The anatomy of suffering.
Sometimes we suffer because of our sin. At other times the sin of others brings distress and pain to our souls. Illness, job loss or financial setbacks also cause pain and suffering. Christians often suffer because of their faith.
No matter the cause, we have all experienced suffering. Make a list of what comes to your mind when you hear the word suffering. Jot down your thoughts on a piece of paper or on the suffering graphic organizer.
To me, suffering is …
- Searing loss
- Deep pain
- Gut-wrenching fear
The list above graphically describes what suffering is … apart from Christ.
Satan uses suffering as a weapon to wreak havoc. He comes to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10). But God redeems our suffering by using it as a tool, to shape and sculpt us into the image of Christ—if we let Him.
God not only allows us to suffer, but according to 1 Peter 4:19 (get ready for this) He wills that we suffer.
Why? Because of our fallen nature, some things will only be accomplished in us through suffering. Trial by trial. Chip by chip. Hardships knock off edges from our character, until God in us is revealed.
Take hope! There is purpose in our suffering.
Your suffering will not destroy you; quite the opposite is true. Through suffering, your faith is being refined and strengthened. Impurities and flaws are removed and in the end your faith is made stronger. Your present suffering is a stepping-stone to your next level of ministry and relationship with God the Father.
God promises to use all things for our good.
That doesn’t mean all things are good, but will be used for our good. Our job is to hang on for the blessing. Don’t give up.Keep looking for Jesus in your suffering. He is with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you.
The Blessing of Suffering List.
- Perfects and completes our faith. James 1:2-42
- Glorifies God. 1 Peter 4:12-13
- Furthers the Gospel. Philippians 1:12
- Strengthens Our faith. 1 Peter 1:6-7
- Makes us bolder. 1 Thessalonians 2:1-2
The greater the suffering, the greater the glory.
What are some things we can do while persevering through a season of suffering? Below is a list of suggestions. Pick one or two to focus on.
Suffering To Do List
- Ask for help.
- Identify one person to share your feelings with.
- Continue to minister if you are able.
- Give yourself permission to take a break from ministry to heal if needed.
- Continue to pray.
- Continue to give.
- Stay connected with Jesus.
- Continue to do good.
Above all, speak words of life into your suffering.
Let’s revisit our thoughts about suffering.
Remember the suffering graphic organizer we made earlier? Do you need to add anything to your list? I pray God helps you to re-frame how you view suffering, the role it plays in your life as a Christian and why He allows His people to suffer. We choose whether or not we accept God’s will or become bitter.
Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator. 1 Peter 4:19
What will you focus on today?
Please let me know in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you!
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