Dear readers, today we embark on a journey into a difficult, often debated topic: Why does God allow us to suffer? With the turmoil around us, this question seems more relevant than ever. Our mission today is to explore this from a conservative Christian perspective, focusing solely on the spiritual aspects rather than delving into politics.
The Echoes of Eden’s Fall
To understand suffering, we must look back to the start – Eden. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, eating from the Tree of Knowledge, they chose their judgment of good and evil over God’s. This act cast a long shadow of suffering over humanity. “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart” (Prov 21:2) reminds us that our personal views can be deceptive. Just like during the time of the judges in Israel where “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25), we are drawn to follow our own way, a course that history has proven problematic.
A World View on Suffering
Unbelievers often question why a supreme, loving God allows suffering. They contend that a truly omnipotent God should eliminate all suffering, and failure to do so implies a lack of compassion or power. However, if we imagine a world without God, suffering and evil would still exist, only now the responsibility falls squarely on humanity. The unholy trinity of the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life continue to steer our world down a treacherous path, away from God and toward self-centeredness.
Suffering as a Path to Humility and Grace
While suffering can be brutal, it can also lead us to God’s grace. A friend, enduring a debilitating illness, found solace in the story of Christ’s own suffering. In his pain, he saw a reflection of the torments Christ bore for our salvation. His suffering humbled him, allowing him to receive God’s grace, as God “gives grace to the humble but opposes the proud” (James 4:6).
Peter’s Perspective on Suffering
The Apostle Peter, well-versed in the trials of life, teaches us that suffering can lead to spiritual growth. He states that enduring sorrows while suffering unjustly is a “gracious thing” (1st Pet 2:19) and reminds us that Christ also suffered, leaving us an example to follow. Importantly, Peter offers hope by saying, “After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace…will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (1st Pet 5:10).
Trials as a Refiner’s Fire
Like the goldsmith’s fire purges impurities from gold, our trials serve to refine us, removing unwanted aspects of our character. Peter encourages us not to view trials as strange or surprising events but as opportunities to rejoice and share in Christ’s sufferings, ultimately leading to joy when His glory is revealed (1st Pet 4:12-13).
The Storms of Life
God employs storms in our lives for various divine purposes – storms of affection, direction, perfection, and reflection. These storms help purify our faith, humble us, align us with Jesus’ sufferings, and pave the way for us to reign with Him. Suffering, viewed through this lens, can lead to spiritual elevation.
The Divine Perspective
While suffering is a difficult aspect of our earthly existence, we can take heart knowing that everything, including suffering, works out for our best (Rom 8:28). We may not always comprehend why we suffer, but we know that God is for us, so nothing can truly be against us (Rom 8:31), even during our darkest hours.
Through this lens of faith, suffering becomes not just an inevitable part of life but an opportunity for spiritual growth, a reminder of our humanity, and a path to understanding God’s grace. The next time you or someone you love encounters suffering, remember these truths and hold fast to the promise of God’s everlasting love.