when tragedy strikes
the suffering of fools
temptations, tests, and trials
why does God test man, part one
testing and the education of life
what my cat taught me about testing, and trusting
why does God test man, part two
We have so far discussed three biblical answers to the question of Why suffering? The first is that we live in a fallen world; the second is that foolish and sinful behavior results in painful consequences; and the third is that God allows trials to test us.
I do not believe that God ordains suffering that results from fallenness, or suffering that results from foolishness or sinfulness. He commanded Adam to obey Him in the garden so that His creation would not be spoiled by sin, and He commands all men everywhere to get wisdom, to repent, and to sin no more. How can He ordain what He prohibits? But when evil happens to us, He turns it to work for good in our lives. That is an expression of His love and grace toward us.
Then there is suffering as a result of trials. God allows us to be tested “to do [us] good in the end.” How much of the suffering of trials is ordained by God, or just allowed by God, I do not know.
But as I was thinking over the life of Joseph, I was puzzled. His sufferings were not a consequence of his own foolishness or sinfulness, nor did they seem to be a test, as Job’s sufferings were. Certainly he was sold as a slave because of his brothers’ sinning against him. But Joseph said of his slavery and everything that had happened to him,
“And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.” Gen 45:5
And Peter also says,
“Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” 1 Pet 4:19
Sometimes suffering is ordained by the will of God, to accomplish a purpose greater than our comfort. This is the fourth biblical answer to the question of “Why suffering?” God is sovereign; He is our Creator and the Ruler of the universe. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the potter, we are the clay. He is fashioning vessels for His use.
Jesus is our example. He came, not to be served, but to serve. He served the purpose of the Father though it cost Him His life. Our Heavenly Father is not our servant, whose job is to provide us with a comfortable life. He is not the cosmic Santa Claus, who gives us presents if we have been good. He is not a tame lion.
We have a purpose in this life, to worship and serve God. If our only purpose was our own personal salvation or our own personal comfort, then each of us would go home to be with the Lord after our conversion. We remain here because we are salt, we are light; God has a plan for us to witness of Him, to make other disciples, to preserve life, as Joseph said. Not everything is always about us, our plans, our dreams, and our comfort, sisters. It is about God, His
purposes, and His glory.
“In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Joh 16:33
when we suffer: a warning
help when we hurt
flip the switch
the poetry of drawing near
hearts wounded by suffering
what my thimble taught me
pride: the hidden problem with hardness
portrait of a yielded heart
the poetry of a yielded heart
comfort when we suffer
taking comfort: psalm 42
the poetry of taking comfort
comfort, comfort, o my people
comfort as a mother comforts
a rabbit trail
the joy of intimacy
the poetry of intimacy
God’s comforting presence
why don’t I feel God?
christians and suffering
back from the abyss