Here is my view on the often-asked questions, Why do Christians suffer? Since the beginning of time, God’s people have suffered and that will continue, despite the misled teachings that believers should not suffer. Some would contest that all suffering is from Satan. That is absurd, since most of the New Testament was written to the new church that was suffering. I do not believe the Bible teaches that followers of Jesus should not suffer and God does not use suffering. I believe that is not biblical, and not a reality. Whether we like it or not, suffering draws us to Christ. Suffering reminds us of our immortality and our absolute lack of control over our life, health, and circumstances, which we desire to control so deeply. I have had some deep suffering in life, I know most have had it worse. During those dark and painful times, I turned to Christ, and knew the Lord’s presence was with me so strongly.
Suffering that I have encountered and you may also.
1. Suffering from my own sin, my own choices, my own self-inflicted pain.
2. Suffering physically, with pain and/or sickness.
3. Suffering as I experience the death of my family and those I love.
4. Suffering because of other’s choices, and/or sin.
5. Financial suffering.
6. Emotional Suffering, discouragement, depression, because of the circumstances of life.
7. Suffering as a pastor, when I observe others choosing the world instead of Jesus, and they abandon their faith, wreck their lives, bring suffering upon their family. This deeply grieves me.
8. Suffering watching and walking with, others that are suffering from all of the above.
Paul teaches us in 2 Corinthians, 1.4-9, we learn that we suffer to be comforted so we can comfort others. The definition of that Greek word, is to “encourage, bring consolation, comfort.” Bob Utley give light to the word “comfort’. “The term paraklēsis in its different forms, is used ten times in vv. 3–11. It is the key term throughout the entire passage and also in chapters 1–9, where it is used twenty-five times. The word means “to call alongside.” It was often used in a judicial sense of an advocate who rendered legal aid, comfort, and guidance.”
We suffer simply for a couple of reasons according to this text.
1. Our suffering calls the Holy Spirit to us to bring comfort.
2. Our suffering bring us the experience of comfort from God so we can comfort/encourage others who are suffering (1.4).
3. We suffer so we will learn not to depend on ourselves, but on God.
4. Suffering strengthens our faith we are taught in James 1.1-4.
We live in a fallen world, and we are not exempt from the suffering of this world. God redeemed us. A day is coming when we will not suffer, we will not age, our bodies will not fail us, loved ones will never die, we will never be without, and Jesus purchased that on the cross of Calvary, and the resurrection!
If you are suffering now, don’t turn from God, turn to Him. Don’t blame Him, embrace His comfort. Abandon self, grow, learn, and receive the presence of the Holy Spirit. Let your roots go deep in Jesus during the suffering, and cling to the hope that Christ promises throughout the Bible. He is with you and he is with us during any kind of suffering. God is more concerned about our Character and Christ-likeness, than even our comfort! So grow during the season of suffering. It is a season, so it will end, but use it now, to know Christ!
“The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8.16-18
New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Ro 8:16–18). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
Utley, R. J. (2002). Paul’s Letters to a Troubled Church: I and II Corinthians (Vol. Volume 6, p. 203). Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International.