Suffering and pain are realities in life. Despite what Buddhists or New Age cults say about suffering, it is real, it hurts, and it can even shake the Christian’s faith. Thankfully Scripture gives us a helpful angle on suffering in light of God’s sovereignty. We see it on the cross and we see it in God’s fatherly love. In God’s sovereignty, suffering is productive: Christ’s suffering resulted in salvation for sinners, and the Christian’s suffering produces endurance, character, and so on (see Rom. 5:4-5).
Lamentations 3:32-33 says this of God: Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone (NIV). Jerry Bridges wrote some helpful reflections on this truth.
“God does not willing bring affliction or grief to us. He does not delight in causing us to experience pain or heartache. He always has a purpose for the grief He brings or allows to come into our lives. Most often we do not know what that purpose is, but it is enough to know that His infinite wisdom and perfect love have determined that the particular sorrow is best for us.”
“God never wastes pain. He always uses it to accomplish His purpose. And His purpose is for His glory and our good. Therefore, we can trust Him when our hearts are aching or our bodies are racked with pain.”
“Trusting God in the midst of our pain and heartache means that we accept it from Him. There is a vast difference between acceptance and either resignation or submission. We can resign ourselves to a difficult situation, simply because we see no other alternative. Many people do that all the time. Or we can submit to the sovereignty of God in our circumstances with a certain amount of reluctance. But to truly accept our pain and heartache has the connotation of willingness. An aptitude of acceptance says that we trust God, that He loves us and knows what is best for us.”
Covenant Presbyterian Church
Hammond, WI, 54015