Why We Suffer: Part 1 Kendall Lankford
May 21, 2018
Does anyone want to suffer? Wouldn’t most of us prefer listening to an orchestra of well-manicured nails crescendoing against a dusty old chalkboard than go through an ounce of pain? I know I would.
So why does God have us, His children, walk through a world that is so riddled with suffering? Why do we suffer? These are not the type of questions we can avoid. We cannot simply bury our heads in the sand like an over-hopeful ostrich thinking everything will somehow be ok. We must attack the topic head-on and learn what God will teach us. If not, we risk decades of disappointment and frustration in our walk with God that could have been avoided with truth.
In part one of this six part topic, I want to explore one of the six reasons I believe we suffer and offer some advice on how to navigate our suffering well.
REason 1: We suffer when we sin.
The first and most obvious reason God allows a Christian to suffer is because we sin. I know this seems obvious and little redundant, but keep reading. When we step outside of God’s revealed Word and live against His commands we experience a kind of suffering that is deserved. Like a child who disobeys his parents, we suffer when we disobey our Father. When we break His rules, He is just and right to punish us. I think we get it.
What we often don’t get...
is that God still loves us and is working through our suffering for our good.
When we sin we are so prone to heap mountains of shame upon our head, that we end up never seeing the love of God. This causes our suffering to feel punitive instead of redemptive.
We cite everything wrong in our life as evidence that God’s mighty hand of justice is against us, never experiencing His tender mercy and grace. This is not Biblical. Why?
The Bible says so...
“We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” - Romans 8:28
This means that God is working for our good even in our suffering.
This means our suffering that results from sin is not a cold callous punishment from an angry God we could never measure up to, but the loving correction of a Father who deeply loves us. And while it is true that we suffer consequences when we sin, God is also infinitely merciful to us. Not once have we received the punishment we actually deserve (Romans 6:23). Even in our worst self-inflicted sufferings, we have been offered the most infinite of grace. How?
Because the Bible tells us that the punishment for even one sin is death. Therefore, anything short of death, every time we sin, ought to be viewed as purest most undeserved grace from a Father who loves us and wants to redeem us. With this in view, how mild are the corrections that we actually receive, in light of the punishments we are actually owed?
If we are still living and breathing, though sinful, then we have been given a gift so grand and glorious our lips ought never stop singing. We have been given the hope of redemption!
In this life, God has graciously withheld what is due to us, making Christ taste the full weight of our sin. He did this in order to make us His dearly loved children. But, like a good Father, He still gives us a small taste of the consequences. Not to cripple us or to make us feel dejected, but to teach us. (Proverbs 3:11).
His greatest care for us and the most loving thing He could do for us is not to make our lives easy or comfortable but to use suffering in a way that forms us into the image of Christ.
All things that do not look like Christ must fall away in this life as we prepare to meet Him in the next. In fact, this life is but the dress rehearsal for eternity. Suffering is but one tool in our loving Father’s hand to aid us in looking more like Jesus until we meet Him. You may think about it this way, if we are never experiencing any consequences or corrections for our sin, it might be time to ask if God truly is our Father.
When this kind of suffering is viewed rightly, we will see that is not using suffering as a weapon against us but He allows it in order to heal us.
A letter to those who suffer because of sin
If you have sinned, you need not feel defeated. Christ has taken the penalty away from you and the suffering you experience now is for your good. I know that might be hard to imagine, but His Word proclaims it to be true. His hand of wrath is not upon you, He is not angry with you, He is preparing you for glory and is using your suffering to heal you. I know what you are walking through right now is difficult, but if you are not dead then God is not finished with you! Try reframing your pain into praise. Do not allow the enemy to embitter you. Do not sit in your suffering feeling sorry for yourself. Look to the one who loves you and is committed to loving you for an eternity! He will use our worst to accomplish His best.
Grace and peace to you,
Be on the lookout for part 2...