This is Part 1 of 5 parts answering the question, “What are the benefits of the suffering God allows?” in the larger question, “Why does a loving God allow suffering?” Parts 2-5 will be posted on succeeding days.
Although suffering produces pain and anguish, it actually has benefits that you’ll miss if you focus only on the pain itself. If you get a “bird’s eye” view of it you’ll see that there are many benefits to suffering, yet in the intensity of the pain, they are often not easy to see. What are some of the benefits of suffering?
A Biblical Response To Suffering Provides a Visible Example To The World
When you read about the Lord Jesus suffering on the cross, you receive a beautiful picture of one who entrusted Himself to the Father. He is a picture of how suffering can be endured and glory can be achieved.
Joni Eareckson Tada has used her disability to glorify God. She has introduced thousands to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and has been used by Him to strengthen many more with her encouragement to be faithful even in suffering. She writes,
People with disabilities may well be God’s best audio visual aids of these powerful truths to the rest of the congregation. Disabled people are audiovisual aids on how suffering should be handled. People who are suffering always have something to say to those who are facing lesser conflicts.1
Through dealing with her disability and the highs and lows it has caused in her life, she has gained God’s view of how He meant it to become a visible example for thousands to take notice of and reacquire godly priorities,
And God’s motive in my accident was to abort that devilish scheme and turn a headstrong, stubborn, rebellious teenager into a woman who can reflect something of his patience, something of his perseverance, something of his endurance, something of his character. And after forty years in a wheelchair, I can say that my own suffering has lifted me out of my spiritual slumber. It has got me seriously thinking about the lordship of Christ in my life. It has helped convince this skeptical, cynical world that my God is worth trusting. It has shown me that we can be loyal to him despite our afflictions and infirmities, that disability ministry should have priority in church, and that heaven is real.2
Joni has been and continues to be a great visual aid that glorifies God, revealing His presence even in suffering. And, of course, suffering reveals the weakness of our human bodies, which we will discuss in the next section.
Part 2 will be posted tomorrow.
1Joni Eareckson Tada, “Redeeming Suffering,” Why, O God. (Wheaton, Crossways, 2011), p. 18.
2Ibid., p. 20.