Regardless of which injustices and unfairness occurs, it’s beyond our ability to understand why some suffer unjustly, while yet others who do wickedly prosper. Even though this question has been examined for thousands of years, mankind just can’t comprehend what God is doing behind the scenes (Eccl. 8:17). Even if an old, wise and experienced theologian claims to know full well the reasons why people suffer, don’t believe it (Eccl. 3:17). We can’t even explain all of our miseries or even know the exact day that we’ll die (Eccl. 8:6-8). However, the children of God can depend on and have faith in His promise that no harm will come to us (Eccl. 8:5, John 10:28-29).
I will not claim that this article explains it all…I would be lying if I did. For the children of God, this will all make perfect sense someday, but today it remains hidden in mystery. For non-Christians, sorrows can sometimes lead a person to God. They can sometimes be a way for God telling us something is not right. It may be His way of trying to draw you to Himself (John 6:44). I suffering from Fibromyalgia, severe arthritis and from cluster headaches. I don’t know why, but I do know that it keeps me in my face before God, fully dependent upon Him to go on. It causes me to fall into depression at times. I cry out to God and ask “Why!?“. He tells me nothing. But in His sovereignty, He knows that we are better off not knowing. What mystery and what purpose there is in suffering though.
If you’re a born-again Christian, you can rest assured that the reasons will be made clear to you someday and will make perfect sense. But it will not be made known in this present life, I do know that much. Knowing that all things will work out for our best, even the bad things, should give us a proper perspective (Rom. 8:28). It says “all things work for the good”, it does not say that all things are good, nor does it tell us why they will work out for the best…yet!
Storms of Perfection
When gold is refined, it is much more beautiful and infinitely more valuable. And trials can be just like the refiners fire, burning away the unnecessary things. When I was sick, I could care less about college football. It allowed me to rearrange my priorities. I had to ask myself this question: Since I suffer physical ailments (fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and migraine headaches) and even though I’ve been born again and I attend church regularly, faithfully tithe, help the poor, etc., why would I need to suffer? But excuses for suffering could be just a pile of filthy rags (works). My own works can never guarantee that I won’t ever suffer. I have discovered that suffering are like storms. They come and they go. And they have purpose. There are at least two purposes that I’ve found in the Bible that storms do produce.
Storms of Correction
Storms of life should be considered storms of perfection and storms of correction. God corrects every child He loves and disciplines. Sometimes our own actions are the result of our own suffering. We make bad decisions or make choices that we should not make and they lead to consequences. But God can even make good come from this too. If He corrects us, that means He loves us and like any good father, they must discipline their child. The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference. And if God never disciplined us for our own good, then He wouldn’t love us.
Other times, God is refining us in the smelting pot and burning away impurities of character or habits that we have. And other times, He is purifying us to be more like His Son, Jesus Christ, who Himself suffered more than any human that has ever lived. The result of suffering can be obedience or it can be building a more godly character.
Storms of Direction
There is something much bigger going on here that I can not see with my eyes nor discover with my five senses. I must simply be still and know that He is God. He is in charge and He has a plan that is exactly the best for me (Psalm 46.10). Everyone has a “dark night of the soul” but when God is most silent, I believe that this is when God is most active…behind the scenes or away from human discernment. When I was young and had severely fractured my skull, I remember having to lay on my stomach for months, not able to play, or go to school. This was extremely hard for me, but I had such severe swelling of the brain that it was too risky for me to even raise my head, not to mention doing what a young boy naturally wanted to do. But my options were limited. I could die if I didn’t follow doctor’s orders. Really, I had no clue about how this was supposed to help, but help it did.
As hard as life is to swallow sometimes, I will only later realize that it was the best thing for me. I must learn to think of that Great Day, when this old tent (tabernacle) will be thrown off for an eternal body…my mortality will be swallowed up by the Spirit’s quickening and immortality (II Cor 5:2).
Enduring is made more bearable when you know that you suffer with Jesus or another Christian friend…someone who knows what you are going through and understands. This helps you cope with it better. And God certainly gives us the strength and courage we need to go through things, since He declares He will be an ever-present help when we are in trouble (Psalm 46:1).
By the way, this puts you into a unique position. That of personally identifying with others who are going through or suffering from the same things you do. You can say with all authority, “Yes, I understand”. That’s comforting to someone who’s going through a great deal of suffering.
Storms of Affection
Every good father corrects his children because he loves them and wants what is best for them. God the Father corrects and chastises every child He loves. Don’t take it too personal because trials may be storms of correction or storms of perfection, as the late Adrian Rogers put it so well. Human parents correct or discipline those that they deeply love and care about. There is not doubt, I’ve got much dross to burn off, but He is in the refining business. For born-again Christians, suffering is actually a good thing and a God-thing. He is not causing it, but allowing it. This is a fallen world. God could intervene but then human free will would be destroyed.
Believe me that the Father desires to have relationship with you and to give you the ability to carry on. In fact, God so passionately desires to give you eternal life that He allowed His Son to endure the greatest suffering that any human has ever experienced. That was the most unfair thing that has ever happened! Jesus horrible death paid our debt so that we could have joy in the fellowship with the Most High forever. If you are not already born again, you can become a child of God right now and any present day suffering can be turned into eternal joy someday.
Storms of Reflection
When you receive eternal life, the Holy Spirit opens your understanding of the plan of salvation. No one should ever have to worry that they are not good enough to get saved or they have too many terrible things they‘ve done. Let now be the time to accept Him and see just how deep are the rivers of His mercy and the oceans of His of grace. Particularly since no one knows what tomorrow will bring, and when we all might appear before the Great Throne of the Judgment Seat of Jesus Christ. Only then will it be too late. There is still time. Reflect on what God has done, is doing and will yet due in the future. I have caved in to times of depression, weakness of faith and hopelessness, only to feel ashamed of it later. I reflect back, only later, that I worried over nothing. He has never given me more than I can handle. I just didn’t always realize it at the time.
My own salvation was never, nor could ever be lost on my faltering faith, my despondency, my depression or hopelessness. It is not all my responsibility, nor is it yours. I learned the hard way that it is not all your responsibility…it is your response to His ability. Remember that holiness is not the way to Jesus; Jesus is the way to holiness. And He doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called.
An excerpt from chapter seven of the Book, “Do Babies Go To Heaven? Why Does God Allow Suffering?”