By: A. Williams (November 2010)
God is so far past our own comprehension and understanding. God may not always act in ways our finite minds will understand because his ways are not our ways. We cannot always know why he allows each and every instance of suffering to come into our lives but it’s up to us to remain faithful. The existence of suffering does not at all mean that God cannot stop it or he doesn’t care it simply means that he has chosen not to do so.
So let’s talk about suffering for a little bit. Whether it’s persecution, illness, loss of a job, imprisonment, or even death no one looks forward to suffering. It’s uncomfortable; it’s painful and makes us feel vulnerable. That being said suffering does accomplish a few things for us: 1) helps to purify our faith and 2) brings us closer to God. Take Job for instance; a wealthy, righteous and upright man, who lost his possessions, children, and his health through no fault of his own. Now why would God allow him to suffer so much? We must always be ready for tests of faith in our lives. Testing is difficult but often results in a deeper relationship with God and those who endure this suffering will reap God’s great rewards and blessings in the end. Trusting God for who he is and not for what he does will help us build and strengthen our faith (Proverbs 3:5-6). We must accept what God allows to happen in our lives and stay firmly committed to him and his promises. We often feel and assume our suffering always comes as a result of sin. Suffering is not always a result of sin, when we experience severe suffering it may not be our fault, so we do not have to add pain by feeling guilty that some hidden sin is causing our trouble.
God even allowed his own son Jesus Christ to suffer through torture, beatings, lies and even death on the cross. Nothing we suffer can compare to the price Jesus paid to save us and grant us eternal life. It is by Christ’s suffering and death on the cross that we are able to be redeemed. How ironic that God’s plan from all eternity was that Christ die for our sins, yet Christ was crucified by these same evil people whom he was called to save; God allowed his son to suffer to save the lives of his followers. Jesus could have saved himself but he chose to suffer because it was God’s will; he was obedient. If we are to live in Christ we must expect some suffering (as Christ did) to be a part of our walk with Christ as well.
Satan constantly attempts to drive a wedge between us and God by trying to convince us that God doesn’t care about us, and he is not with us. As Christians we need to be able to recognize these attacks, but not fear them. Paul states ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” (Romans 8:35). Suffering should not drive us away from God but identify with him further and allow his love to reach and heal us. Contrary to what you may think or believe Satan’s attacks cannot exceed the limits set forth by God. We can’t control when or how Satan attacks, however we can control how we respond to them. Romans 8:18 says “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” This tells us that God cares. He sent to his son Jesus Christ to die for our sins and to deliver us from pain and suffering.
Many questions arise about why God does what he does, why he allows certain things to happen, why not step in and make everything right? Maybe it’s to help increase our faith and trust in him. Perhaps to teach us discipline and instruction; we sometimes learn our greatest lessons after having suffered the consequences of our own actions. Could it be to make a point; I mean if we never endured suffering, hardships, trials and tribulations how would we know how to trust God, how to call on his name, how to pray ever harder, to look towards him for strength comfort, and deliverance. How about our own free will? Sometimes those who choose to rebel against God need to be humbled. Maybe God allows suffering to continue for a greater purpose or for His divine plan. For example, to bring forth his son Jesus Christ.
We will experience difficulties that help us grow as people and more importantly as Christians. “Therefore take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). God is all wise and all powerful. He still is and always will be in control. We rejoice because we know God is using Satan attacks to and deepen our faith and strengthen our character.