Saturday, June 6, 2020

Why Does God Allow Us to Suffer?

The extraordinary events of recent times -- pandemic, financial crisis, global civil unrest, famine, drought, and severe weather -- all fan the flames of collective and individual suffering. How can a good God allow His children to suffer?
Yet Jesus is always there to hear and answer the prayers of His children, and He always does so in the best possible way, motivated by perfect love and enabled by infinite power and wisdom. This is often difficult to understand when we are praying earnestly and in His will, and yet He is allowing us to suffer, for one of several reasons, as part of His perfect plan.

If our suffering is a consequence of our sin, God may use this as part of the chastening process, as a loving Father disciplines His children to shape their character and behavior (Proverbs 13:24; Hebrews 12:6; Revelation 3:19). Yet not all our suffering is the result of our personal sin (John 9:1-3). Once we are saved by placing our faith in His death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way (John 14:6) to Heaven, physical or emotional pain unrelated to our own sin helps to make us more like Jesus Christ. 

As born-again Christians (John 3:3-8), we can identify with His suffering for us as He approached the cross, and on the cross, even though He was blameless, pure and holy (Philippians 3:8-10). The prophet Isaiah foretold that Jesus, the promised Messiah, would be a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. Although He was wounded and punished to save us, we despised and rejected Him (Isaiah 53:1-12). 

God the Father did not answer the prayer of Jesus to remove the cup of suffering from Him if it were possible, yet He sent an angel to strengthen and comfort Jesus as He submitted to His Father’s perfect will (Luke 22:42-45). Jesus understands our suffering, gives us mercy and grace in trouble, and helps us in time of need (Hebrews 2:9-18). 

We should not be surprised when God allows to go through trials, as these strengthen our faith, refining it as gold is refined by the fire and resulting in praise, honor and glory when Jesus Christ returns (1 Peter 1:5-7; 2:20) and we stand before His judgment seat. As we share in suffering as Christ did, through fiery trials of persecution or other trouble, we are promised joy when He returns. If we suffer according to God’s will, we can trust Him to keep our souls and to enable us to continue His perfect plan for us. Not only is He our faithful Creator, but also our Redeemer and Sustainer (1 Peter 4:12-19). 

God may permit us to experience loss – of health, wealth, power, cherished dreams, and even of loved ones – to strengthen our faith in and dependence on Him (Job 1). If we ignore His still, small voice (1 Kings 19:12) and His more urgent calls, and if we quench and grieve His Spirit living in our heart (1 Thessalonians 5:19; Ephesians 4:30), it may take disaster to bring us to our knees and to call out to Him in distress (Psalm 34:18). He receives our broken spirit and heart as cherished sacrifices to Him, allowing Him to restore us (Psalm 51:17). 

Even when we are submitting to His will, God may allow painful experiences to afflict us so that we gain wisdom and compassion to counsel others going through similar trials (2 Corinthians 1:7; Colossians 3:12). His light within us shines the brightest when we are in the darkest of circumstances. Job refused to renounce his God even when he had lost nearly everything he once held dear (Job 23:10-12). 

The apostle Paul found the peace that passes all human understanding and perpetual joy in the Lord (Philippians 4:4,7) when he had undergone countless hardships and was imprisoned in a miserable jail cell (2 Corinthians 11:24-30). He was able to thrive in all circumstances because of His intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, Who provided for all his needs (Philippians 4:12-13;19). Paul teaches us to receive that peace by handing our anxieties over to Him in prayer with thanksgiving and praise (Philippians 4:6-7). 

God’s grace is sufficient and His strength is made perfect in our weakness, so we have reason to rejoice in our shortcomings (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). We can even rejoice in our sufferings, as our perseverance through trials builds our character and gives us the sure hope of God’s love through His Spirit that lives within every believer (Romans 5:3-5). No matter how dark is the night of our sorrow, He promises that joy will come in the morning and that He will turn our mourning into joyful dancing (Psalm 30:5-12).

Once we begin to try to appreciate the limitless depths of God’s love, wisdom, and power, and to trust His grace and mercy (Psalm 119:76-77) to always work all circumstances together for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28), we can begin to find the emotional and physical healing we so desperately need (Psalm 147:3). 

Praise God that His compassion and mercy are unfailing, faithful, and new every morning, always giving us new hope and a fresh start, no matter what our circumstances (Lamentations 3:19-26).
© 2016 Laurie Collett
Edited and reposted from the archives


Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
Well done!
With both my beloved and I going through poor health, I found your blog to be a tonic, after being asked whether "we were walking in the Lord" or "You have that authority to cast that demon out" when neither were necessarily true.
For those who ask me why God is so loving yet allows suffering, my response is likely to ask them:
"Do you believe God himself has ever suffered?"
Wishing both good health. God bless.

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
Thanks as always for your encouraging comment. We certainly don't enjoy suffering when going through it, but we can have faith that it brings about His higher purposes for us and for others, just as it did for His Son.
It is disheartening when fellow Christians, who should know better, imply that our suffering must be through some fault of our own, kicking us when we're down, as it were.
May God bless you and Alex and give you good health,

Winkel's Crazy Ideas said...

Thank you Laurie, needed very much to be reminded of this. God bless, Pam in Norway

Brenda said...

Hi Laurie,
I have gone through many experiences of physical sicknesses since I have been born again of God's Holy Spirit, but I have been brought through these through the strength of the Word of God being spoken to me. Trials strengthen us, and if we continue to trust in the Word of the Lord no matter what the enemy is speaking through our carnal minds, then we shall be brought through all of these trials and bring glory to God through our testimonies. The Holy Spirit told me to trust in that Word many years ago when I asked Him to teach me about sickness and healing, and while endeavouring to do that I have experienced both a miracle and some healings - so I know that what man can not do, God can do. It is an ongoing journey, and we mature through trials when we allow the Lord to be our strength. I will continue to say 'I will love Thee O Lord my strength.
God bless you and yours Laurie with all He has for us in Jesus.