Life can be extremely difficult to understand. It can present such calamity and pain that we are unable to comprehend why hurtful circumstances come our way. Why does God allow us to suffer may be the question of the century. It can be even more confusing as a believer to understand why hardships, heartaches, setbacks, and trials come our way. Often people may believe, “if we live halfway right” did not God say He would keep us from situations of distress and suffering? Does God not care? Is He even concerned about our welfare? In a world of pain where is God? If He is so good and compassionate why does life have to be filled with such intense hurt or be so tragic? Has He lost control or does He even have any measure of control in the first place? These are many of the perplexing thoughts and questions that may come to mind for any person facing awful issues or baffling difficulty. If you are like me, you long for some way to put together an answer to this puzzling issue of suffering. However, I believe God has given us enough pieces of the puzzle to help us trust Him even when we don’t have all the information we would like.
So then, what is suffering? The Bible dictionary states, “Allow, let, permit (Mark 10:14); be in pain, go through troubles (Matt 16:21).” Suffering is pain or distress and it’s one of the most persistent of all human problems. Suffering can take many forms such as physical pain, frustrated hopes, depression, isolation, betrayal, backstabbing, loneliness, grief, anxiety, spiritual crisis and more. The bottom line – none of us like to suffer, not even the righteous. There are many biblical examples of suffering. As persons in the bible experienced tremendous moments of suffering, like us they sought ways to understand it and cope with it in a way that would also include their belief in both God’s power and God’s goodness.
One thing we know about suffering is it captures our full attention. Yes, its grip on our lives can be punishing and unrelenting. Yet, suffering can be the very instrument God uses to propel us into our destiny. Look at the apostle Paul in Acts 9:15-16. When we look we are stunned to hear, “But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.” Could Paul have risen to the level God desired without suffering in his life? Not likely! We should also consider what a fellow-sufferer had to say in Romans 5:3-4. The testimony can make us shake our heads as we hear, “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope.” How could Paul say that we should rejoice or be happy that we are having to endure some painful tragedy or trial? He was not telling us to celebrate our troubles; rather, he was telling us to rejoice about what God can and will do for us through our trials and suffering for His glory. Suffering has redemptive qualities! Paul’s statement encourages us to celebrate the end product, not the painful process. Truth is, we live in a dark world. Regardless, of that fact we are to rejoice knowing God has given purpose for every heartache, headache, pain, hurt, distress, illness or calamity we face. Victory is ours! Victory today is ours to realize! We must know God will get the glory out of each and every situation we encounter if we stand firm on our faith in Him and Him alone.
Minister Kevin Dunman