The Purpose of Suffering
Suffering. It’s a word no one likes to hear. No one jumps up and down with joy when they’re faced with a hard situation. Everyone on this planet will suffer at one point or another. Either you have already faced suffering, you currently are, or you will. Because of the fallen world in which we live, suffering is unavoidable. Even Jesus Himself was heartbroken, hurt, persecuted and ultimately died on a cross to pay a debt He never owed. Of course this was hard for Him, just as our suffering is hard for us. He was manifest in the flesh so He felt each emotion we feel from day to day. But He lived His life in a way that displayed peace, grace, love, and trust in the fact that everything would turn out okay.
Suffering has many faces: emotional suffering, spiritual suffering, and physical suffering. Regardless of your spiritual status, suffering is painful. Your suffering may look different than someone else’s suffering, but it is still very real and very hard to go through.
Although the different situations we face seem almost unbearable, they all have a purpose. We will never face a situation that will not have meaning in the long run. The Bible tells us God will work all things together for the good of those who love Him—that doesn’t mean all things will be good.
“For those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Fortunately for us, God specializes in comforting those who are hurting. In our pain we find God is the closest to us. The psalmist David wrote, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed” (Psalm 34:18). The special intimacy with God that develops in hardships makes the struggles worth it.
Sometimes suffering comes our way to bring us to a full reliance on God. The apostle Paul understood this concept when he wrote to the Corinthian church concerning his trouble in Asia. “We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead” (II Corinthians 1:8-9, emphasis added). God sometimes calls us to hardships to show us that He can and will take care of us. Through our different struggles, we learn to rely on Him rather than our own inadequate strength.
Suffering brings a beautiful testimony to those who overcome. When we handle a difficult situation with integrity and joy, it is a witness to the people around us. We are then provided with pivotal opportunities to share with others the magnificent testimony God has given us, and we become a walking testament to the Lord’s strength and power.
The reward in Heaven to which we look forward is such a beautiful reminder of God’s grace and mercy. As sinners, we don’t deserve the great reward bestowed on us, but God loves us so much that He wants us to live together with Him in paradise for all eternity. The troubles we face here on Earth will seem miniscule compared to His excellent glory we will one day behold.
“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later” (Romans 8:18.)
In those difficult times of despair, remember to display the same peace, love, and grace Jesus Christ did in His time on Earth. We are called to be like Him in every part of our life. Trust in the fact that God will work it out for your good. God is always fighting for us. Whether we can see Him or not, He is constantly working on our behalf. God has overcome the world, and with His help, you can overcome your suffering.
“In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, emphasis added).
My name is Brenae Hord. I am seventeen years old, and I live in Florissant, Missouri. I attend Winds of Pentecost in St. Charles (Pastor Tom Trimble) where I am avidly involved in the music, youth, and Bible quizzing ministries.