Suffering And Sovereignty

Thankfully, the Bible does not shy away from the hard issues. Suffering is one such issue. Suffering is hit head on from the very beginning by giving an explanation of why there is pain and suffering and yet, all the while, continually affirming God’s sovereign rule over this world and the suffering experienced in this world. The reality is, faith in Jesus Christ does not keep the people of God from suffering and we find in life and on the pages of Scripture that even God’s people suffer in this world. So, how do we process all of this? How are we supposed to respond in the face of suffering as those who belong to God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ? I want to highlight 8 truths from Scripture that will help us see how God uses suffering in the life of the Christian.

1. We Will Not Always Understand Why We Suffer (God Doesn’t Always Explain The, “Why”)

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:14 ESV)

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,(1 Peter 3:18 ESV)”

2. God uses suffering to bring us into a closer relationship with Him

For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. (Hebrews 2:10 ESV)

3. God Uses Suffering to Refine His People

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4 ESV)

4. God Uses Suffering to Bring Repentance

And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. (Hebrews 12:5-6 ESV)

5. God Uses Suffering to Reveal His Grace

Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. (1 Peter 4:19 ESV)

6. God Uses Suffering to Bring Repentance

Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. “For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another. (Isaiah 48:10-11 ESV)

7. God uses Suffering to make us sympathetic counselors  to those undergoing suffering

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3-7 ESV)

8. God uses suffering to bless His people

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,  “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:31-39 ESV)

As God’s people, may we take comfort that while suffering may touch our lives, God is not taken by surprise by our suffering nor has he left us to suffer on our own. We have a Great High Priest who knows our suffering and aids us in our times of suffering (Hebrews 4:14-16). May we entrust our heats to His tender and loving care at all times and trust Him.

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