Why? Why me? What is the meaning of this suffering? These are questions asked by Christians and non-Christians alike. No one is immune to suffering and adversity: “Man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). There are the pressures of want, need, sorrow, pain, persecution, unpopularity or loneliness. Some suffer for what they have done; others suffer because of what people have done to them. Many suffer because they are victims of circumstances beyond their control.
Pain is distressing. There can be nights of agony when God seems so unfair and it seems there is no possible help or answer. The solution is to condition our attitudes so that we learn to triumph in and through suffering. When Paul looked for relief from his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7),God did not take it away (although there may be times that He does), but told him that “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (verse 9).
Billy Graham says, “Nowhere does the Bible teach that Christians are exempt from the tribulations and natural disasters that come upon the people of the world. Scripture does teach that the Christian can face tribulation, crisis, calamity, and personal suffering with a supernatural power that is not available to the person outside of Christ.”
We need to be careful not to wallow in self-pity and bitterness, taking a sort of delight in blaming God for the problems. Job’s attitude may be an inspiration: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” The one suffering will be blessed if, amid great agony and despair, he or she can look into the face of the Heavenly Father and, because of His eternal love and presence, be grateful. Our response to suffering should be to look beyond it and see God’s higher purpose and what He wants to teach us.
Reasons for suffering may include one or several of the following:
- Sometimes God is taking corrective action because of sin and disobedience
- God may permit suffering so that we learn to respond to problems in a Biblical way.
- Sometimes God permits suffering simply to teach us that pain is a part of life.
- We may bring it upon ourselves. Long-term abuse of our bodies may bring on sickness.
- God may permit suffering for our well-being (Romans 8:28-29). We have to accept this by faith and trust God to work out His own will and purpose in us so that we might be more Christ like.
- Sometimes God permits suffering in order to speak through our life and testimony to comfort others (John 9:3; 2 Cor. 1:3-4).
- We are always invited to bring our hurts to God in prayer asking for deliverance, especially if we have dealt with all the possible reasons why this is happening to me. But we must allow Him to answer as He chooses and not make demands.
Amidst the heartache, choose to offer your pain to God in prayer. Tell Him exactly how you feel: if you are confused, angry, tired, disappointed, disillusioned, or totally numb, just tell him. He can handle it. Then spend time reading and meditating on some of these passages: John 14:1, Romans 8:35-37, James 1:2-3,12, 1 Peter 4:12-13, 16, 19.
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