Have you ever wondered why the Lord allows suffering to enter our lives? Or what the reasons for suffering are? He’s omnipotent God, after all, and could supernaturally prevent such trials if He chose to do so.
Obviously, this suffering is part of what makes us human, but it truly wasn’t His original plan!
Adam and Eve lived in a perfect atmosphere – no sin, no death, no sickness, no hardship of any kind. That’s the sort of perfect existence our Father God intended for us to experience from the beginning.
Nevertheless, our present world is full of evil, pain, suffering, and trials.So what happened?
3 Biblical Reasons for Suffering:
1. Suffering because of Sin
In the Bible, God’s message to us, we find that the first suffering took place when man first sinned. As a result guilt and death entered the world.
It must have been horrifying for Adam and Eve to realize that because of their choices, an innocent animal must be slaughtered, especially since they had never experienced death.
And to realize they must leave paradise and the very presence of their Lord God?
So by this token, one of the reasons for suffering is related to sin. Sin leads to suffering and eventually… death.
Sometimes we experience natural, earthly consequences as a result of our choices to follow our own ways and ideas rather than God’s. We choose not to stay inside the fence of His protection and leave ourselves open for calamity. That’s one of the reasons for suffering in the world today.
But wait; there is still good news!
We serve a God of grace.
Even though Adam and Eve brought sin and suffering to the world, God did not leave them to suffer alone. Instead, He promised a Deliverer, the Messiah, who would one day restore man to a right relationship with Him.
Consider the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:10-32 -an ungrateful lad who left his father’s household to pursue his own desires, which led to his eventual ruin. But when he realized his mistake, his sin, his father welcomed him home with rejoicing! Not grudging acceptance, but rejoicing!
He was fully restored.
It’s the same for us, Chosen Children – no, even more so!
For if an earthly father could forgive an ungrateful son and welcome him home with full acceptance and even rejoicing, how much more can our perfectly loving Heavenly Father welcome us back when we make wrong choices?
So, even if we suffer for a while because of sin in our lives, God promises redemption and restoration. Although we may feel too ashamed to ask for His help, He willingly offers it!
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:7-10
2. Suffering at the hand of Satan
~ For the Lord’s Glory
We also read in 1 Peter 5:8-9 that suffering and trials can be brought upon Christ-followers simply because we belong to the Lord.
Satan is God’s enemy and does not desire that we should exist in a harmonious relationship with God. 1 Peter describes him as prowling like a lion, seeking to devour.
Even the very world we live in is also our enemy because of our beliefs according to this passage in John.
“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:19
Thus, sometimes our suffering is a result of the enemy’s attacks.
Never was there a clearer picture of this type of suffering than the life of Job, a man who lived uprightly. Satan asked for permission to test his faith and the Lord granted it.
So that through his endurance, Job might bring glory to the Lord!
But the story doesn’t end there, friends. Because the Lord required the loss of Job’s family, possessions, and even his health, He also blessed Job abundantly by restoring him and adding to all that he had before.
And through it all, the Lord was glorified! Not only that, Job’s story continues to be an encouragement to others to this day.
What suffering have you endured that the Lord might want to use for His glory?
We sometimes like to hide away those painful things, but what if our restoration can only be found in surrendering those things to the Lord to do with as He pleases?
3. Suffering for Refined Faith
“Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” Isaiah 48:10
In the Bible, we read that trials will refine our faith like precious metals are refined by fire.
Such suffering is not a punishment from the Lord, although it may feel like it at times. Rather, these trials are intended to grow our faith, to help us better understand who God is and who we are through Him.
Therefore, James 1:2-4 can admonish us to “count it all joy” when we suffer.
We can count it joy, not because the suffering is painless, but because we believe that God is faithful to use it for our benefit.
In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ…” 1 Peter 1:6-7
Friends, our human perspective is skewed.
We see and live in the here-and-now.
Any present suffering feels bad, unbearable even.
But God’s view is all-encompassing because He is all-knowing and eternal.
God alone knows how something that looks bad can actually result in good for us.
He can also see how the lives we live today will not only affect those around us now, but also how our lives might affect generations upon generations to come.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (emphasis mine)
This, this right here is the light at the end of the tunnel, folks.
Not the deliverance, although we’ll certainly be grateful for that when it comes.
It’s the purpose: to know that we do not suffer in vain.
In the midst of your trial, remember you are not being punished by an angry God, but pruned and pursued by a loving God.
And, oh, the beauty of it all.
When He takes our insignificant pain and suffering and uses it to comfort others in need, I’m just in awe .
This is the God we serve, Who takes the ugly and make it beautiful,
Who turns weeping into rejoicing, pain into promise,
Who lifts up the humble,
Who redeems the sinner and exalts the unworthy!
He is the Lord and is worthy to be praised!
Take heart, my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Whatever trial you are going through,
there is purpose in the pain.
Mel Caldicott says
Jen, there is so much hope to be found here. Thanks so much for your inspiration and encouragement to others.
Thanks so much for sharing at Essential Fridays.
Mel from Essential Thing Devotions
Thanks for that encouragement, Mel!
What purpose…is there in pain….I don’t get it….I am suffering so much….I don’t see the purpose in it….it doesn’t seem to make me any stronger….it’s affecting me physically….have lost 12 pounds in a month….I don’t see the purpose
Honestly, Zoe, sometimes we don’t get to see the reason why, especially not in the moment. Pain is ultimately a by-product of sin’s entry into the world way back in the Garden of Eden. So, some suffering is simply because we live in a sin-filled world, and our bodies are corrupted by sin. Regardless of why we suffer, there are real lessons to be learned if we are open to learning them. Suffering in my own life has brought me into a deeper trust relationship with God, but it wasn’t easy! I’ve lived through several months-long seasons of being nearly incapacitated, in the same position as you – wondering what the purpose was and why it felt like God had forsaken me. Only after approaching our Father God honestly, asking the tough questions, being real with my anger and resentment, was I able to come to a place of peace. Ask God to show you what purpose your pain serves, Zoe. Cry out to Him for rescue but also for eyes that will see how He is working in spite of your suffering. Be honest with Him – He can take it! Praying for you as you wrestle with the Lord!
What a beautiful post – you’re right; there’s absolutely a purpose in all that we go through. God redeems the time, heals the hurts, and carries us through. God is faithful!
Yes, He is faithful – even when we doubt!
Jennifer 'Miner' Ferguson says
You are right — our perspective is skewed. It is impossible for us to see as God sees unless He illuminates it for us. And this is what I’ve learned to do — simply ask. Even if I don’t get the answer I want or the reasons I want, I do get to catch glimpses of His purpose for me.
So, true, Jennifer. We can ask Him to help us “see.” Sometimes that doesn’t change circomstances much, but I know for me a little understanding goes a long way! Thanks for stopping by.
Melody Hester says
It did make me laugh that ya’ll not-so-affectionately renamed the Falls “Buttkill Falls” – ha! Seriously sorry you went through all that though. Not fun. Love the Biblical reminder of why suffering but how God uses it.
Yes, the whole family had a great time making jokes at my expense. 🙂 It was one of those – I might as well laugh or I’ll cry – moments. It’s been a frustrating injury to recover from, but the Lord sure is using it for good as He teaches me to draw near to Him. Some days I can really appreciate that, and other days, not so much. Haha.
Such great encouragement! So important to have a good perspective on suffering, otherwise it can feel so overwhelming.
Christy @ A Heartening Life
Perspective really is key! And I seem to need a lot of reminding of what real suffering is. 🙂 Thanks for visiting!
Great perspective. I wrote about an area satan uses and has used to attack me today. Once we put our stories out there, satan gets busy trying to discourage. Writing can be a discouraging and lonely world. Thank you for sharing your encouragement with us today.
You are so right, Melinda! 🙂 Because now that I think about it, the very next day after I posted this the Enemy’s fiery darts started flying! Thanks for reminding me that we battle not against flesh and blood, and for stopping by to encourage me. Bless you!
Thanks, Melinda, for stopping by to encourage me with your words. You are so right about Satan! It seems as soon as I blog about something and feel like I’m getting a handle on it, then he attacks in full force! At first, I was surprised by this, but now I know a little better to expect it. So, it’s not always so overwhelming. I hope you have an encouraging week!
Thank you Jen for sharing the hope found only in the Lord when life is bringing us down.
Thanks for stopping by, Judith!
Starla J says
Great post. Love the encouragement and scripture you’ve given. Thank you.
That is so beautiful. I have fibromyalgia and have a blog called God-Living with Chronic Illness. Could you be a guest blogger and could we post this article on my site? I could not have written it any better. It is just beautiful.
Laurie, I am so sorry that I’m just now seeing your comment! I’d love to work with you on a guest-post, if you could contact me via email, then we could discuss it. My email is email@example.com.
Three reasons we suffer?
2. His cruelty
3. His entertainment
I’m so sorry that you’ve had such a negative experience to believe such lies about God’s character. I’d love to chat with you more sometime if you’re interested, Susan!