Why do Christians suffer? Indeed the question is often asked, "Why does a loving God allow anyone to suffer?" This tract seeks to answer these questions.
Psalm 119:67 is applicable to believer and unbeliever. It says, "Before I was afflicted I went astray..." Often God uses suffering to draw the unbeliever to Himself. When we suffer it reminds us of our own mortality. Many believers have found that they are closest to God while undergoing some sort of suffering. In verse 75 we read, "in faithfulness you have afflicted me." We can be sure that the Lord will do those things that are ultimately good and correct.
Paul the Apostle suffered greatly in his life and yet he could say, "we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Perseverance, character and hope are all qualities which the Christian wants. We must accept that suffering is one method the Lord uses to build these. When we endure suffering we also give strong evidence that our faith is genuine (1 Peter 1:6,7). Also see James 1:2-4.
In 2 Corinthians 1:3,4 we read, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ... who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." When we are going through some sort of suffering or trial, we often feel that others do not understand, but when we hear words of comfort from someone who has been through the same circumstances, it is more comforting and easier to accept.
Sometimes, suffering is a result of sin. Romans 3:23 reads, "for all have sinned and fall sort of the glory of God." It is always possible that God is chastening us for our sin. Yet there is comfort even in this because the Lord is trying to bring His children back to himself. This chastening is not evidence that God doesn't care; rather it is evidence that He does care! Hebrews 12:7 says, "Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?" In verse 11 we read, "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Yes, sin is sometimes the reason for suffering, but we as Christians must be very careful not to accuse others of some unseen sin when they are suffering. This is what Job's counselors did. However, when we are undergoing suffering, we should examine ourselves to see if there is any unconfessed sin in our lives.
In Psalm 119:71 we read, "It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees." Sometimes God must lay us low to bring us back to the basics. We can learn God's ways and His word better when self has been broken. Suffering is not fun, but it does make God's word precious and real to us.
Philippians 1:29 says, "For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him." In 3:10, Paul says, "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death...." The servant is not greater than his master. The Lord Jesus suffered and we should not be surprised when we suffer. Suffering allows us to be identified with Christ and to have fellowship with Him.
Finally, we get to the unknown reason. Job suffered greatly and at the end was restored to God, yet we see no evidence that he ever found out why he went through all those trials and tribulations. Sometimes we may suffer for reasons that will not be apparent until we reach heaven. Yet when we get there we shall surely say, "It was good for me to be afflicted."
The author of this tract is greatly indebted to Mr. Jack Correll, who gave a sermon on this topic. I have taken some of his points and worked in some of my own. Ultimately all credit belongs to the God who has saved us and given us his word.
All Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION.
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