Pain & Suffering

Isaiah 43:2When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

Isaiah

The Bible has many things to say about pain and suffering. The Bible leaves many of our questions about suffering unanswered. However, what it does do is tell us the story of a God who has come close to us in the midst of our suffering, who actually suffered for us, who will one day destroy suffering forever.

The book of Lamentations, which, according to tradition, records the prophet Jeremiah’s grief-laden prayers to the Lord 

The book of Psalms-

I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. —Psalm 6:6

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? —Psalm 13:1–2

My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’ —Psalm 42:3

[God has] put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths. —Psalm 88:6

The prophet Habakkuk lived through a period of great suffering among God’s people. He opened his book by asking God two questions: How long? Why?

God declared that he was raising up the Chaldeans—a brutal and terrifying people—to execute judgment on Judah for their injustice and transgressions. Habakkuk then had to struggle with how God could use that oppressive and wicked nation to deal with the problems among God’s people. He cried out to God again, asking how God could use one evil to check another: “Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?”

God responded a second time, declaring that he would bring all evil to account and settle every score. It might take longer than Habakkuk expected or hoped, but God’s justice would come decisively and in the right time. In the meantime, he called Habakkuk to trust him and walk through this difficult season by faith, because “the righteous person will live by his faithfulness.”9 In the end, Habakkuk saw a vision of God coming in judgment and salvation. Seeing God enabled him to find joy, even amidst his suffering.

When we experience suffering or observe it in the lives of those around us, one of the most natural questions to ask is, Why?

The vision of a God who is big enough to handle such questions, and big enough to trust even when life seems to be falling apart

Suffering can produce very different results in different peoples’ lives, the same painful experience can make one person bitter, narrow, and ungenerous, and another person sweeter, humbler, and more patient.

Suffering will indeed come, but God can give us grace and power to overcome every trial and to fulfill our purpose and mission in His kingdom. 

Amen

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