Making Sense of Suffering - Part A
22 May, 2008
Making Sense of Suffering ... Part A
12 Spiritual Reasons for Suffering
The impotence, the injustice and the surrounding ignorance to suffering assail all alike.
Finding reason in the unreasonable, depth in the disaster or simply quality to a life 'snatched away' is just so dissatisfyingly unfathomable.
That which eludes the mind of man, will never elude the mind of God. His infallible word reveals many reasons for suffering. Please enjoy this first of 4 installments. It covers briefly the first 12 reasons.
The question that this series must pose is, which reason/s explains my suffering? This can really only be answered between you and God. Job got no helpful assistance/advice from his friends at all. Ultimately it is usually only my close relationship with The Father and His Son that can reveal this to me as I walk with Him through the Holy Spirit.
Please note there is no sequencing at all to the order of these reasons. They are in categories for ease of reference and understanding.
BEFORE READING FURTHER PLEASE LEARN THIS VERSE because it is not God's desire to ever harm anyone. His core is always to care. It is God's eternal desire to repair and not wreck.
For he (God) does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to the children of men. Lamentations 3:33
12 spiritual reasons for suffering
- To accomplish the purposes of God's heart. Jer 31:19-20. God's purpose for His people is to understand their own ways, that they may turn to Him. He can use His loving discipline to achieve this. Paul clearly accepts (even rejoices?) that his suffering advances the Gospel and promotes spiritual strength in those around him. Phil 1:12-14
- Suffering may just be for the well being of others. There is nothing clearer in all of creation than the Cross of Jesus identifying innocent suffering for the well being of another. The apostle Paul explains this with personal clarity in Phil 1:12-26.
- My suffering exalts Christ Phil 1:20. Esteem for Jesus will grow in the eyes of others and He can receive deserving praise through His servant's suffering.
- I am unable to know God's mind, counsel His thoughts, or discover His intentions unless He decides to inform me. His purposes are too high for me. Is 55:9 Things occur to me that are seeded in the heavenlies that I simply can't understand. (This is why Job suffered, a heavenly transaction he was simply unaware of. Look at Job 1 & Job 2)
- So that I may
reach out/search for God. Acts 17:26-27 It is God's GOOD intention that we all find Him and know Him. Our lives are so constructed that this may be easy for us to do. God does not want us to 'miss' Him. My life is so constructed that I may reach out and find Him. He WANTS to be found. Suffering really is God using the temporal to prepare me for the eternal.
- To learn to live for God's will and not mine. 1 Peter 4:1-2 Suffering helps me, indeed equips me, to leave my sin behind. So often my sin brings my suffering. When I am tired of causing my own suffering through my sin, I will then be free to adopt Christ's correct attitudes to my life. Suffering is really a sin remover. Suffering delivers me from sin and frees me to serve. Phil 1:19. Think: who is more likely to harm me; me or Jesus? (This is developed in much more detail in "Personal Reasons for suffering.")
- God tests obedience. Judges 3:1-4. The story transpires of a small group of gunmen violently interrupting a Christian church gathering in a Communist country. Before shooting they offered every person the opportunity to leave if they did not follow Jesus. Many left! At their departure the men put down their guns and said they wanted to find out who the hypocrites were. The gunmen then joined in worship. Instantly this suffering showed who were the true Christians. (Must see also Hebs 12:1-11)
- To bring God glory. Jn 9:3 My suffering can always serve a much higher purpose. It then is not from my sin, or another's malevolence to me. There is simply a higher good that I am not usually aware of but I have been privileged to be part of. (Mary, a young virgin, pregnant with Jesus would have experienced great difficulty for a much greater good.)
- We simply live in
a world cursed to decay.Gen 3:17, Rms 8:18-21 Ever since man was unceremonially ejected, indeed expelled from Eden by God the world has been cursed to decay. Tyres go flat, batteries loose charge, paint fades and my hair thins. The suffering of ill health especially, simply can happen because this world is cursed to decay.
- Simply share with Christ. Rms 8:17. Jesus is clear that the path to glory can be gory. To follow His footsteps (as a Christian does) is to be vulnerable to what He was vulnerable to. Jesus teaches cle that the path to glory is narrow and difficult, the gate is tight. Mt 7:13-14 The path of suffering even taught Jesus obedience. Hebs 5:7-8
- Suffering is a gift of God. Phil 1:29 It certainly may not feel as if it is a gift, but it must be if it brings you close to throne of grace. Sometimes suffering is God's gift to gain our attention. As with Jonah there may be massive storms before we will take the gentle and unseen hand that has been reaching down to us all our life.
- Death. God's foreknowledge wants to bring early release Is 57:1 When a premature death occurs, God is clear that for those who belong to Him, He is simply delivering 'an early mark' to spare them later pain, that only He can know will happen. Death then actually becomes His kindness received. (See Soul Snack ... 'The Early Mark'.)
- God orders all events in sequence. The Bible is very clear that the Lord operates in His divinely appointed seasons (Eccl 3:1-11, Hab 2:3, Rev 20 etc). The time of suffering may well be the season that a person must pass through. Remember suffering is to draw us to God and not from God.
Making Sense of Suffering Part B examines Biblically the impact of evil upon our lives.