In a world that does its best to minimize or medicate suffering and attempts to maximize pleasure, Christians must understand suffering is not meaningless. God is always working in and through our suffering to produce His greater purposes. On this side of eternity it is difficult to discern every meaning to every suffering (Deuteronomy 29:29; 1Corinthians 13:12) but we can understand a degree of God’s purposes, of which here are a few:
– Suffering humbles us to God’s sovereignty (Job 1:21, 40:3-5; Psalm 73:25; Psalm 77, 139)
ð Is my pride and arrogance causing me to have a sense of entitlement without recognizing God’s sovereignty and requesting God’s gracious blessings?
– Suffering identifies us with Jesus (2Cor 4:10-12; Gal 6:17; Philippians 3:10; 1Peter 4:16)
ð Am I attempting to isolate from God and God’s people?
– Suffering teaches us to trust and depend on God’s resources and not our own (Psalm 119:71; 2Cor 1:8-9; 12:7-10; Philippians 4:11-13)
ð Am I attempting solutions to my suffering from a human or worldly perspective?
– Suffering matures our faith and character (Romans 5:3-4, 8:28-29; James 1:2-4; 1Peter 1:6-9)
ð Is there an area of my life and spiritual growth that needs maturity?
– Suffering chastens us to holiness (Hebrews 12:5-29; James 5:13-20)
ð Is there an area of my life that needs surrendering and repentance to God?
– Suffering glorifies Jesus (John 9:3, 11:4, 12:27-28, 12:32, 17:1; Romans 8:17-18; 1Peter 4:13)
ð Am I seeking personal glory or credit for things in my life without gratitude to God?
– Suffering prepares us for redemptive death in hope of an eternal home (Psalm 90:10-12; John 11:4; Romans 8:18-23; 2Corinthians 5:1-10)
ð Am I holding too tightly to this world? Am I ready to face God for my eternal destiny?
– Samuel Rutherfod said that when he was cast into the cellars of affliction he remembered that the great King always kept his wine there.
– Charles Spurgeon said, “they who dive in the sea of affliction bring up rare pearls.”
– John Piper “God intends for the afflictions of Christ to be presented to the world through the afflictions of His people. God really means for the body of Christ, the church, to experience some of the suffering He experienced so that when we proclaim the Cross as the way of life, people will see the marks of the Cross in us and feel the love of the Cross from us…” (Desiring God, pp.269-270)
“We must talk so as to make suffering seem normal and purposeful, and not surprising in this fallen age. The forces of American culture are almost all designed to build the opposite worldview into our minds. Maximize comfort, ease, and security. Avoid all choices that might bring discomfort, trouble, difficulty, pain, or suffering. Add this cultural force to our natural desire for immediate gratification and fleeting pleasures, and the combined power to undermine the superior satisfaction of the soul in the glory of God through suffering is huge.” (John Piper, Counseling Suffering People, JBC, Winter 2003)