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October 30, 2007

If God is loving, why does He allow suffering?

by Dave Malnes

As a result of sin, our world suffers and we suffer the consequences. Nobody likes to suffer, because its intensely painful. Even though we take great pains to achieve comfort, there are times when we can’t avoid suffering.

With that in mind, let me ask you a question. What is the main point of our lives? The Bible tells us that the main point of life and the reason for which we were created is to glorify God. The only way we can fulfill God’s purpose is through faith in Christ Jesus because Christ accomplished glory and through Christ, we receive His glory. It is God’s will that we not only come to faith, but grow in the faith as well. And God is glorified! 

The hard truth of the Bible is that the process of Christian growth can only be obtained through suffering, not when we are comfortable. Suffering was the process the Lord ordained for Christ Jesus on behalf of us. He suffered and died on the cross for us. It was God’s will. It was part of the plan. In fact, three times in the garden Jesus asked that if it was possible that God could take this cup of suffering from him. Yet, through Christ’s suffering, it was made possible for us to glorify God and fulfill his purpose. 

The Bible also says that we need to share in Christ’s suffering in order to share in his glory (Romans 8:17). There are seven other Biblical references that state that we as Christians “must” suffer with Jesus. Why? It is through suffering that we learn obedience, a firmer trust in our Lord. Because of our sinful nature and our sinful world, God has ordained suffering for us that we may draw closer to him. With this knowledge and understanding in Scripture, we can truthfully and confidently pray the same prayer in the garden, “not my will, but yours God.” Instead of bitterness or worry, the book of James says that we can have joy in facing sufferings. We can “rejoice” in our suffering because of the fruit of faith it brings to our Christian lives. 

In our Christian life, we must remember that joy is not happiness. Happiness rests on circumstances in our life. Joy does not depend on circumstances in life, but depends solely on our relationship with God. Each one of us goes through some type of ongoing suffering in our lives. Sometimes its little things, sometimes it’s a crisis. As Christian, we are encouraged to go to the Lord in prayer and confidence. Yet, with the fruit of trust hammered out by suffering, we are refrained from praying, “Lord, get me out of this!” but “Lord, thank you for putting me in the middle of the process of suffering.  This is your will for my life and I know that as a result, I will be stronger Christian.” 

For those who are suffering, I pray that God will make things better. When answered prayers goes against our desires it is painful. I encourage all of us to place our hope on the sure foundation that is found in Christ. Jesus. Our lives and the history of the world is not a random series of events, but it is a river whose flow is directed and guided by God in the channels he chooses for it. The ultimate goal God has in mind for this river is to flow into the ocean that is Christ.   

There are those who look at the cross, the circumstances in their life and at world events and say, “Where is God?” For those who are rooted in faith, we look at the circumstances in our life and world events and say, “I trust you, God!”  With joy, hope and confidence, we let go and allow our boat to go down the current and toward the victory found in Christ Jesus. 

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