Monday, October 16, 2017

The Problem of Suffering

"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ" (1 Peter 4:12–13).

The new life in Christ does not eliminate the problems of life. Nor does our new life prevent suffering. For the next several days we shall consider this problem. Christians suffer—often intensely and sometimes for long periods of time. This is a fact of our lives, and one about which the Bible has much to say.

God allows suffering and pain to come our way and He has reasons for it. We are not to count it as some “strange thing,” as Peter tells us, but to understand that “it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God” (1 Peter 4:17). As the author of Hebrews tells us, “The Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son” (Hebrews 12:6).

The belief that our labor is in vain, and that it has no purpose makes suffering hardest to bear. Usually we cannot see what the purpose of our pain is, and perhaps in this life we will never know what purpose God has in mind in taking us through such trials. But the Bible shows us a God who is involved with His people in their suffering. It shows us a Jesus Christ who is the “Man of Sorrows, and familiar with suffering” (Isaiah 53:3).

It is impossible that any pain should be without purpose. If God really exists, there is no such thing as meaningless suffering. The sovereign God of the universe has a good purpose in all that He sends our way.

Isaiah says the Suffering Servant will see the travail of His soul and be satisfied (Isaiah 53:11). His substitutionary atonement had the purpose of effecting our salvation. The Cross and therefore our suffering are not in vain. Express your trust in His good purposes as you pray about this today.