This is Part 4 of 5 parts answering the question, “Suffering: What are the Benefits of the Suffering God Allows?” in the larger question, “Why does a loving God allow suffering?” Part 5 will be posted tomorrow.
Godly Responses During Suffering Manifest Glory
The key in suffering is to respond rather than react. If you put on the Lord Jesus Christ and arm yourself spiritually for the battle, you’ll overcome,
Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. (1 Pet. 4:1-2 NKJ)
If you show a godly response, you will direct the world’s attention to the source of your hope, comfort and strength – the Lord Jesus. All glory is due Him. Waters highlights this,
Suffering can also be a glorification process in which the sufferer brings glory to God by remaining faithful during the suffering. The testimony of the repentant person glorifies God for personal restoration after suffering (33:26-27). God is also glorified when he promotes the righteous person after a period of suffering (36:7, 15; cf. 42:10-16)…Job was a witness to all sufferers through history that even when one does not know the reason for his suffering and when there is no reason given, there is indeed a reason, namely God’s glory (Job 36:15-16; 37:22-23; 42:5; Pss. 59:16; 92:5-6; 138:5-6; Rev. 15:3).8
God will share His glory with no other (Is. 42:8), and when person tries to stoically “gut out” his suffering rather than give God glory through it, what is left to him? Only his suffering! He gains nothing from the experience. What a miserable thought, especially when God designs all things to draw people to Himself!
Suffering Draws Us Closer to God
How many of us have cried out to God in the midst of our anguish? Yes, it can draw us closer to God if we allow it! We see our need, feel our pain and seek relief from the One who can deliver if He chooses. Victor Anderson astutely points out the obvious,
Scripture repeatedly shows suffering people calling out to God. Suffering and deprivation (as opposed to comfort and wealth) would keep Israel close to their God, acknowledging their dependence on him. Naaman, afflicted with leprosy, proved to be soft toward the God of Israel…The apostle Paul, afflicted with a thorn in his flesh, related how he was thereby sensitized to the grace of God. The overwhelming sense from Scripture is that suffering heightens – or at least has exceptional potential to heighten – spiritual sensitivity.9
If suffering is what it takes to draw us closer to God, then it is a benefit. And ultimately, much good can come from our afflictions.
Part 5 will be posted tomorrow.
9Victor Anderson, “Pastoral Care and Disability,” Why, O God. (Wheaton, Crossways, 2011), p. 234.