This is Part 2 of 6 parts answering the question, “How should we live during the suffering God allows?” in the larger question, “Why does a loving God allow suffering?” Parts 3-6 will be posted on following days.
We Will All Suffer In Life
The point that we will suffer is nothing new, however. No matter what theology or philosophy you pursue in life, God has purposes behind every affliction! This is seen in the previous major section (Part Three). Stephen Bramer addresses Malachi’s message to Israel, where the Jews were instructed to understand the coming day of the Lord and how their suffering was part of the preparation to meet their King. He writes, “Their suffering could have come to an end had they recognized their King and responded to his offer. But they rejected him, and human suffering continued, as seen in the New Testament.”2
We continue to see the suffering in the New Testament. It seems as though every one of the 27 books contains it! Paul wrote about his,
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:7-10 NKJ)
Note that God gave Paul a “thorn” to keep him from getting proud and to conform him to the image of the Lord Jesus (Rom. 8:29). Yet, Paul learned the Divine plan for suffering and rather than whining and complaining, he learned to boast in his weaknesses and sufferings to exalt the Lord Jesus!
Peter addressed this in a similar manner when he wrote,
12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. (1 Pet. 4:12-13 NKJ)
You WILL suffer in life, but rejoice that you may partake in Christ’s sufferings! That is NOT easy to do when facing or “in” the trials. However remember Paul’s insightful words, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Rom. 8:18 NKJ) Yes, there will be pain and adversity, but the constant reminder of Scripture is that these are “not worthy to be compared” to what is to come in eternity. Consequently, we should always remember that our afflictions are not unique to us. Paul wrote, “No temptation [or affliction] has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor. 10:13 NKJ)
Victor Anderson, writing about the universal and inescapable aspects of trials in life, provides an insight that summarizes this,
The biblical writers never set out to prove that suffering is ubiquitous; they simply assumed it. Suffering is a part of life; it is an inescapable reality. Beginning in Genesis 3 and ending in the final chapters of revelation, the biblical record pummels readers with pervasive agony.3
This is very much like the fact that the Biblical writers never tried to prove that God exists, but rather just wrote that He does! The same is true for suffering. It is self-evident. We WILL suffer in life.
Sometimes the trials of life are confusing. And there is an enemy that seeks to thwart your understanding and create havoc and more confusion!
2Bramer, Stephen, “Suffering in the Writing Prophets (Isaiah to Malachi),” Why, O God. (Wheaton: Crossway, 2011), p. 159.
Part 3 will be posted tomorrow.