“We have a sense of personal obligation to be constantly thanking God at all times concerning you, brethren, even as it is fitting and proper, because your faith is growing wonderfully and the divine and self-sacrificial love of each one of you all for one another exists in great abundance, so that we ourselves take pride in and boast about you in the assemblies of God concerning your fortitude and faith in all of your persecutions and tribulations which you are enduring” (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4 Wuest).
We are often confronted with a difficult question when facing the pain and affliction that exists within our world: “If God is good, then why does suffering exist?” Since many instances of suffering seem to be devoid of meaning or purpose, we may be challenged to make sense of painful events that seem to make little sense.
While it is impossible to address the individual cause of suffering in every instance, we can say that valid reasons for suffering always exist, even if we don’t fully comprehend them. With this in mind, we can make some general observations from the Scriptures that can help us understand why God may allow suffering to enter our lives.
First, God may permit suffering in order to strengthen us (2 Corinthians 12:10) or increase our trust in Him (Psalm 50:14-15). God may also use suffering to help us develop patience (Romans 5:3-5) and endurance (Hebrews 10:35-38). He might also use such things to serve as an example to others and demonstrate the proper way to handle trials and difficulties (2 Thessalonians 1:4 above).
The tribulations we experience can help us learn to follow God more closely (Hebrews 5:7-8). While suffering is undeniably painful, it also helps maintain humility (2 Corinthians 12:7-10) and establishes a common ground for ministering to others (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Finally, suffering can lead us into a greater appreciation for Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf (see Philippians 3:10).
Finally, we should remember that suffering is an element that accompanies life in a sinful, fallen world. Nevertheless, we can rest in the assurance that there is a God who has our best interests in mind in the midst of our suffering even if we don’t understand why things happen the way they do. One source closes our look at this topic with a challenging but necessary perspective…
“Believers must remember that problems and suffering are not necessarily a sign of God’s anger or rejection. Bad things happen to faithful followers in a fallen world (cf. 1 Pet. 4:12-19). God’s promises and Christ’s self-giving death are the signs of God’s love (cf. Rom. 5:8). Scripture must take precedence over temporary circumstances!” (1)
(1) Dr. Bob Utley. Free Bible Commentary. Special Topic: Why Do Christians Suffer? Copyright © 2014 Bible Lessons International http://www.freebiblecommentary.org/special_topics/why_do_christians_suffer.html