We may never know why we or others suffer. Whatever the reason, there is one deep and powerful truth that will help carry us through our times of trial: resting in the hope that God is working it out for our good.
Scripture: Job 35:1-37:24
“Be on guard! Turn back from evil, for it was to prevent you from getting into a life of evil that God sent this suffering.” (Job 36:21)
This is a powerful statement and helps answer Job and his other three friends’ speculations over the reason for Job’s sufferings. Job listened, but I wonder if he heard. Elihu made two important points Job should have chimed in on:
- God sent the suffering
- The suffering was for his protection
As difficult as it is for us to understand, sometimes God's providential care allows suffering to come into our lives. Some affliction can be a source of protection from further calamity. Yes. Suffering will prevent future sin.
As a parent, if I see my son doing something that could potentially bring him pain and suffering, I warn him of the dangers and tell him not to continue. If he chooses to keep on, I have a choice to make: warn him again or let him suffer the pain of the consequences. For instance, if my son refuses to go to sleep because it’s ‘cool’ to stay up late, then waking up for school at 6:15 a.m. is not going to be fun for him. Which do you think will prevent him from following this same course the next night: my words or trudging through a long school day? Suffering is an excellent teacher.
This concept is easy to wrap our minds around when it comes to a mom letting her young son deal with sleepiness. But it can be so difficult to reconcile when the stakes are higher, we are the child, and God is the parent. Big questions arise: Why do some suffer more than others? Why does God allow His beloved to suffer? Is all suffering from God? Is all suffering because of sin?
Some of these questions simply don’t have cut and dry answers. We may never know why we or others suffer. It may be for our protection, our holiness, or God’s glory. Whatever the reason, there is one deep and powerful truth that will help carry us through our times of trial: resting in the hope that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28)