Suffering isn’t generally a topic we like to talk about (or read about), but it’s something that is common to all of us. We all endure suffering at some point in our lives. We all have endured pain and heartbreak. For that reason, I think it’s important to understand why we suffer. And more importantly, how we can endure life’s trials and find God’s peace through it all.
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We’ve all faced the question as to why bad things happen to good people. Now I don’t presume to have all the answers. This is a very difficult topic, to say the least. But I do believe God’s Word provides some answers for us.
Sin – I believe this to be the main cause of suffering in the world. Sin is defined as disobedience to God. He expects our obedience, but His reason is love. He loves us too much to see us hurt ourselves and others by making bad choices in life. Our sin has a ripple effect on others, even if we don’t see it at the time. We convince ourselves that our sin doesn’t affect others, but that’s simply a lie from the enemy. It not only has the power to destroy our own lives, but we often cause pain to others by our sin. And others will hurt us with their sin… it’s a vicious cycle.
Death and Decay – When Adam first sinned in the Garden of Eden, it wasn’t just mankind who suffered the consequences… all of creation suffered as well. Death and sickness became a part of our world, not just in humanity, but in all of creation. The Bible tells us that the earth is “groaning” for the day when all will be restored and made right again. (Romans 8:18-22) Until then, we experience the harsh realities of an imperfect world.
Persecution – Jesus wasn’t loved by all. In fact, He was despised by many. If they despised Him, they will despise His followers. The early Christians were persecuted beyond anything we can imagine, but I am so thankful that God gave them the strength to persevere. They stood firm through persecution and the church grew in spite of countless attempts to bring down God’s people.
God’s Glory – God often reveals Himself through trials and suffering. He proves Himself faithful time and time again. Looking back at my life, I can honestly say that some of my darkest times have been transformed by God into my greatest victories. He is faithful to work all things together for our good and for His glory – even our suffering.
We all face trials, but as believers, we can experience God’s peace and joy through difficult circumstances rather than suffering and misery. In other words, we have a choice to suffer in our trials or to trust God through them.
We can rejoice through our suffering because of the hope and peace we find in Christ Jesus.
God doesn’t promise us a life without suffering and trials. But He does promise to equip us, to lead us, to strengthen us, and to give us peace beyond all understanding. He also promises that our suffering is never in vain.
We serve a God who turns mourning into dancing.
*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.