The motives of God are called into question often. “Why do bad things happen to good people?” is question #1 that most people have for God and suffering is usually enough to convince them God doesn’t exist. “If God really existed/loved me, he wouldn’t have let this happen!”
Why does God allow us, as Christians, to still make mistakes, to still suffer, to still be hurt by others, to still become ill?
I mean, we already joined the team, right? We’ve already chosen the right path to follow, and yet, even still, we often find ourselves in darkness, feeling alone and lost.
How can a loving God allow such bad things to happen, even to his own believers?
Our logical minds want to judge him like we would a human father. He must not be as loving as we think, or as powerful as he says. Maybe he’s not as perfect as we’ve told ourselves, or maybe he’s just like any abusive father, taking his rage out on his own children.
He could have made us perfect from the start. He could have made us perfect beings who would never sin and never have to suffer or feel pain. But if he had done that, we wouldn’t have the free will to choose to love and worship God or not. We would be a bunch of parrots, echoing back what God wants us to say, but pretty mindless beyond that.
That’s not the life I want to live. And God didn’t want us to live that way either. He wanted us to choose to love him. To choose him over our own selves. And we’ve been struggling to do that since the very beginning.
All of us, whether we be Christians or not, struggle daily with the “Adam and Eve” inside of us. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that allows us to have victory over the nature that has been handed down to us. And as Christians, we should know that.
Yet, still, when faced with suffering and pain, we forget. We can’t complete the formula in our minds. And we cry out, “Why, God?!”
This is when we ask, specifically, why do we still suffer, as Christians? When we accept Christ, shouldn’t our suffering end? Shouldn’t God protect us from here on out?
Consider Job. Job was a faithful believer and follower and God had protected him and blessed him, too. But then, God allowed Satan to test Job’s faith. Job suffered far beyond anything most of us will ever suffer. And yet, even still, Job kept his faith. Not only that, he continued to worship God in his suffering.
Isn’t that the point of that whole story? The saved are still going to suffer on this Earth, but they have tapped into a power that, when utilized, can bring them through anything.
If someone watched your life and saw that you never suffered, never felt pain, never went through the same stuff they go through, they aren’t going to see the power of God. They are going to see a person who is luckier than they are who could never understand what they are going through.
But, if someone watches you as you go through the same sufferings as them, and sees how God can pull you up out of the darkness, that is where an unbelieving heart starts to soften. That is where the witness lives.
I mean, think about it. Back at the birth of Christianity, the apostles were flogged, imprisoned, and ordered not to preach in the name of Jesus. They suffered through a lot of darkness, yet always came out thankful to be able to suffer in the name of Christ! How they lived their faith, even in the face of torture, brought more people to salvation.
Think about Paul. He was imprisoned several times, beaten with rods and whips, stoned three separate times and left for dead, shipwrecked three times, threatened by Jews, Gentiles, and robbers, attacked by wild animals, bitten by a poisonous snake, left cold, hungry and thirsty, and some Biblical scholars think he was a widower.
And yet, through all of this, Paul continued to express a faith that was persistent, consistent, and infectious!
It is during these seasons of suffering that we as Christians can shine the brightest and reach more of the lost, if we respond to our pain as Christ did to his own. We use the comfort that God gives us during our trails to in turn comfort others who have yet to find God. Our example can bring the lost home.
Now, of course, losing a loved one, breaking up a relationship, or suffering from a debilitating disease doesn’t really seem like suffering for Christ’s sake. But, honestly, for a Christian, all suffering is for Christ’s sake.
When you suffer, people see how a Christian reacts to a cruel world. In your suffering, you need Christ more than ever. You show others what a comforting and faithful Savior you have!
Truth be told, as a Christian, how you react in your darker days is a much bigger witness and will do so much more for the Kingdom than how you react in the good times.
Rejoice that God considers you worthy to suffer for his sake! Carry your shame and infirmity with a sense of worthiness, knowing that God has not forgotten you, but he is working to make you perfect and complete! A day will come when suffering and pain are no more and you will live basking in the glory of the Father.
Keep your chin up and keep the faith.