Others suggest that we should follow the example of the writers of the Psalms, who at times appear to be blaming God for their problems, never stop talking to Him. Still suffering remains a mystery, one that we will never fully understand this side of eternity. We can, however, learn some things from God’s Word:
1. Suffering produces intimacy with God.
Intimacy with God is often borne in the furnace of affliction. Job, who endured unspeakable suffering, said, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.”
Job 42:5 CEV I heard about you from others; now I have seen you with my own eyes.
2. Suffering equips us to comfort others.
Suffering gives us compassion for others who are hurting, enabling us to minister more effectively.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5 CEV Praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! The Father is a merciful God, who always gives us comfort. He comforts us when we are in trouble, so that we can share this same comfort with others in trouble. We share in the terrible sufferings of Christ, but also in the wonderful comfort he gives.
“Sufferers want to be ministered to by people who have suffered,” - Stephen F. Saint
“People who suffer want people who have suffered to tell them there is hope. They are justifiably suspicious of people who appear to have lived lives of ease.” - John Piper
Isaiah 48:10-11 CEV I tested you in hard times just as silver is refined in a heated furnace. I did this because of who I am. I refuse to be dishonored or share my praise with any other god.
Pain and suffering have a way of bringing our strengths and weaknesses to the surface. God skims it off; he purifies and refines.
4. Suffering produces growth and maturity.
If we turn toward God in our pain, He can use our suffering to mature our faith.
James 1:2-4 CEV My friends, be glad, even if you have a lot of trouble. You know you learn to endure by having your faith tested. But you must learn to endure everything, so you will be completely mature and not lacking in anything.
5. Suffering conforms us into God’s image.
Romans 8:28-29 CEV We know that God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him. They are the ones God has chosen for his purpose, and he has always known who his chosen ones would be. He had decided to let them become like his own Son, so his Son would be the first of many children. (emphasis mine)
We may be tempted to read these verses to say that God will bring good out of everything. While He can and does redeem pain in our lives, these verses speak of being conformed to God’s image through our suffering.
“If we are willing to sit still and let God work, we will find ourselves being transformed into the image of Jesus,” - Pastor Paul Daniel Jackson, a pastor at a church in Tucson.
Jesus understands our pain because he, too, suffered.
Matthew 27:46 CEV Then about that time Jesus shouted, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you deserted me?”
Did God abandon His Son in His hour of need? No!
Acts 2:22-24 CEV Now, listen to what I have to say about Jesus from Nazareth. God proved he sent Jesus to you by having him work miracles, wonders, and signs. All of you know this. God had already planned and decided that Jesus would be handed over to you. So you took him and had evil men put him to death on a cross. But God set him free from death and raised him to life. Death could not hold him in its power.
The Bible is quite clear that God will walk with us through life's problems, and that he will never leave us nor forsake us.
Deuteronomy 31:8 CEV The Lord will lead you into the land. He will always be with you and help you, so don't ever be afraid of your enemies.
Hebrews 13:5 CEV Don't fall in love with money. Be satisfied with what you have. The Lord has promised that he will not leave us or desert us.
But he never promises a life free from pain or suffering.
John 16:33 CEV I have told you this, so that you might have peace in your hearts because of me. While you are in the world, you will have to suffer. But cheer up! I have defeated the world.
We may have to wait until we join God in heaven to get some of our questions answered. Until then, take a look at Psalm 23. It reminds us that God may not always take away our suffering, but he will always walk beside us, leading us toward the best possible future—an eternal life with him.
Psalms 23:1-6 CEV You, Lord , are my shepherd. I will never be in need. You let me rest in fields of green grass. You lead me to streams of peaceful water, and you refresh my life. You are true to your name, and you lead me along the right paths. I may walk through valleys as dark as death, but I won't be afraid. You are with me, and your shepherd's rod makes me feel safe. You treat me to a feast, while my enemies watch. You honor me as your guest, and you fill my cup until it overflows. Your kindness and love will always be with me each day of my life, and I will live forever in your house, Lord .
A few weeks ago the day before going to be with the Lord, said "Donald if Jesus came and suffered and died for me, what's the purpose of me having to suffer all this pain"? I said that I can't answer that question. Then I said all the things that I wrote in this post. We then went on to have an amazing conversation. Although he was in extreme pain he mind was sharp. We laughed, talked about the church, where he was an Elder, he wanted me to make some calls to try to find a long term care facility for him. He had a conversation with his son giving him instructions. He asked me to write "Elder George Jacobs died November 2nd in extreme pain" (he went to be with the Lord on November 3rd). Then as we left his hospital room he said "I am really suffering in a lot of pain but this suffering can't destroy my spirit"
2 Corinthians 12:8-10 CEV Three times I begged the Lord to make this suffering go away. But he replied, “My gift of undeserved grace is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak.” So if Christ keeps giving me his power, I will gladly brag about how weak I am. Yes, I am glad to be weak or insulted or mistreated or to have troubles and sufferings, if it is for Christ. Because when I am weak, I am strong.
2 Corinthians 5:4-10 CEV These tents we now live in are like a heavy burden, and we groan. But we don't do this just because we want to leave these bodies that will die. It is because we want to change them for bodies that will never die. God is the one who makes all this possible. He has given us his Spirit to make us certain he will do it. So always be cheerful! As long as we are in these bodies, we are away from the Lord. But we live by faith, not by what we see. We should be cheerful, because we would rather leave these bodies and be at home with the Lord. But whether we are at home with the Lord or away from him, we still try our best to please him. After all, Christ will judge each of us for the good or the bad that we do while living in these bodies.
Revelation 21:1-4 CEV I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth had disappeared, and so had the sea. Then I saw New Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down from God in heaven. It was like a bride dressed in her wedding gown and ready to meet her husband. I heard a loud voice shout from the throne: God's home is now with his people. He will live with them, and they will be his own. Yes, God will make his home among his people. He will wipe all tears from their eyes, and there will be no more death, suffering, crying, or pain. These things of the past are gone forever.