Written by Sawyer Bullock
The Bible speaks at length about suffering. It’s strange that we don’t.
Whether it’s cancer, a car crash, heartbreak—take your pick—we all experience pain and loss in this life. For those in the body of Christ, this can make us wonder why God allows us to remain in certain seasons far longer than we would think necessary. “I know that God can change this, so why doesn’t He?”
We know from His Word that God doesn’t desire His children to suffer, nor does He cause it, but He certainly allows it. Even further, Jesus calls us blessed! We can find at least two reasons for this in Scripture: 1) so God may be glorified, and 2) so we may be sanctified.
An immediate example of this is the death of Lazarus in John 11:4, where Jesus says “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Additionally, Paul speaks of a thorn in his side which God purposefully allowed to remain:
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:8-10).
God will allow our pain to achieve His ends. Suffering can be where excess is cleared (or burned) away. It can be a way of securing goods and removing hindrances. You don’t know what God is bringing you to or protecting you from. We can become numbed into complacency through comfort and contentment. Perhaps God allows suffering to bring us back to Him?
Don’t waste your suffering. Use it to show God’s greatness, the sufficiency of His provision in your time of need, and the surpassing value of his glory. May we proclaim to the world that “[m]y flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26).
Can we think of a greater evil than the murder of a perfect person, namely Jesus? God used the most evil moment in history for His greatest glorification and our greatest good. If He can do that with the greatest of all evils, why don’t you think He can handle yours?
How do we respond to our pain? We respond with faith. We know God’s character, we know His purposes, and we know His promises. Even more, He has given us His Word, His Spirit, and His people.
We know God will end all suffering, but it is according to His schedule, not ours. God is not absent or passive. He is active and present in our suffering. “[He] who does great things beyond searching out, and marvellous things beyond number. Behold, he passes by me, and I see him not” (Job 9:10-11).
May we rest in God’s patient plan.