3 Reasons Suffering Serves a Purpose


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Human suffering is arguably the most common and difficult problem raised against the goodness of God. Why does God allow us to be hurt and wounded?

Isn’t suffering a bad thing? Doesn’t it point to an uncaring and distant God? Let’s look at three reasons that suggest that suffering may actually benefit us.


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For 50+ years, Josh McDowell Ministry has been leading seekers into a deeper knowledge of God’s truth and power. We offer you our accumulated knowledge and research to help you find truth and encouragement to live a healthy and whole life in Christ.


3 Reasons We Might Suffer

1. In Genesis 3, we are told that humanity brought suffering into the world by rejecting God’s authority. As our just and good Father, God wants to protect us. But when we choose to sin, He honors the free will He graciously gives us. He may allow us to experience the consequences of our actions.

He does so not to rub our noses in our suffering, but to show us why living to His standard is good for us. And here’s the real good news: each time we repent, God is always faithful to dust us off and forgive us. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us! God doesn’t hold grudges; we get a fresh start every time. That alone should demonstrate the depth of love and grace God has for us.


2. Sometimes we experience suffering not because we have sin, but because we need to grow. Suffering is the classroom where deep growth can happen, if we buckle down and become good students. God wants us to mature, to consistently demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit: kindness, goodness, patience, love, joy, hope, self-control, etc. Learning to play nice with other messy, self-absorbed humans might require numerous trips to this classroom.

Remember that God isn’t focused on our perfection, but our improvement. He’s after committed hearts that quickly default to repentance and obedience. We can take joy in seeing our growth, knowing it pleases Him!


3. Sometimes we suffer because of the wrong choices — the free will — of others. Yet the Bible gives us this hope: that what others mean for evil, God will work out for our good. Remember what Joseph said to his brothers, after seeing them cower before him as the second-in-command of Egypt? “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Note that God was able to move Joseph from lowly slave to Pharaoh’s trusted advisor because Joesph held firm to his trust that God had a purpose for his years of suffering. Joseph’s attitude brought God glory. And the various skills and maturity that Joseph built up over the years as a slave and prisoner made him into the strong, resourceful man that the world would desperately need when the famine hit.

Don’t assume that because you’re suffering that God does not care. Watch to see how He shows up. Watch to see your own growth. Watch to see how, like Joseph, you become the person God can use for big assignments! When we look at suffering in that perspective, we can view it as painful, but productive. 

God loves us unconditionally. So we can trust that whatever we’re going through, He is with us. But recognize this: if you continually question God’s goodness when you experience suffering, it might be because you don’t yet fully believe that God loves you.

Friends, without this trust as your firm foundation, your faith will always wobble. You will waste a lot of time not trusting God. And you just might miss out on seeing how He orchestrates your periods of difficulty and suffering to produce good and reflect His power and glory. Trust God!


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