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 people suffer as a result of things they have done; others suffer because of what people have done to them. Many others suffer because they are victims of circumstances beyond their control.

Pain is distressing. It can lead to nights of agony when God seems so unfair and it seems there is no possible help or answer.

What should we do when this is our reality?

The biblical 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). Instead, he told him, My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12.9).

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."

Job's attitude may be an inspiration: Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him (Job 13.5). We will be blessed even in the midst of suffering despite our great agony and despair, if we look into the face of the Heavenly Father and draw on his supernatural strength by walking in the Spirit and trusting in his eternal love and presence. When we suffer, let's make it our goal to discover how God wants to use it to help us draw ever closer to him.

Reasons for suffering may include one or several of the following:

  1. Sometimes God is taking corrective action because of sin and disobedience (Hebrews 12:4-12).
  2. God may permit suffering so that we learn to respond to problems in a biblical way (James 1.2-4).
  3. Sometimes God permits suffering simply to teach us that pain is a part of life.
  4. We may bring it upon ourselves. For instance,long-term abuse of our bodies may bring on sickness.
  5. God may permit suffering for our well-being (Romans 8:28-29). If we accept this by faith and trust God to work out his own will and purpose in us, we will become more Christlike.
  6. Sometimes God permits suffering in order to speak through our life and testimony to comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
  7. 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. But we must allow him to answer as he chooses and not make demands (Philippians 4.4-7).

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:

updated August 2019

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