Are you kidding me? How in the world can God allow heinous crimes? Or devastating hurricanes? Or war-time extermination camps? How, indeed. But it’s true. God does allow evil and suffering and pain. It is a reality for Christ followers and begs two huge questions:
- WHY does God allow pain and suffering?
- WHAT does God want us to do with pain and suffering?
WHY DOES GOD ALLOW PAIN AND SUFFERING?
God gave us choice so we would either accept or reject him. He wanted us to love him voluntarily.
With the blessing of this free will comes a certain amount of burden, too. God does not want us to experience pain, but we will suffer the painful consequences produced by our choices and those made by other people.
It helps to remember that Jesus was no stranger to pain and suffering. He was broken, despised, defeated, betrayed, rejected…and crucified
WHAT DOES GOD WANT US TO DO WITH OUR PAIN AND SUFFERING?
While spinning in the maelstrom of pain and suffering, we must choose to run away from God or sprint toward him. Here are five of the most important things God wants us to do with our pain and suffering:
- LEARN From God
- DEPEND on God
- Be COMFORTED by God
- Get WARNINGS from God
- Find HOPE in God
LEARN FROM GOD
God uses our suffering to help us learn from him so we will do what he wants us to do and be who he wants us to be. God does not cause evil and suffering, but he promises to cause good to emerge from a bad circumstance even if we don’t see it immediately or ever in this life.
DEPEND ON GOD
It often takes a painful experience to make us depend on him and do what he wants us to do. Without pain and suffering, we would never know how big our God is and how much he can do in our life. He wants us to depend on him so we will glorify him.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18
This verse is even more powerful to me because it comes from the apostle Paul, who suffered beatings and stonings and shipwrecks and imprisonments and rejection and hunger and thirst and homelessness.
BE COMFORTED BY GOD
When we have been comforted by God and through his Word, we develop Christ-like compassion that leads us to comfort others.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
GET WARNINGS FROM GOD
Pain is a warning light that God uses to get our attention when we have drifted away from him.
“Sometimes it takes a painful situation to make us change our ways.” Proverbs 20:30
“Yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance…” 2 Corinthians 7:9
FIND HOPE IN GOD
God offers us hope and two very important things we need when we’re hurting: peace to deal with our present and courage to deal with our future.
“Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the LORD will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.” Joshua 10:25