While the above examples can bring on a smile, on a deeper and far more personal level, the same could be said about suffering. It is something that we feel defies explanation but the Bible does show us some causes:
*If a person is lost, God may use suffering to bring that person to faith (2 Pet. 3:9).
*God uses suffering to punish unrighteousness (Jn. 3:36).
*Suffering is a Biblical principle (Prov. 4:19).
*Suffering can also be a means for God to display His glory and power (Jn. 9:3).
*But if a person is saved, suffering may make Jesus known to others (2 Cor. 4:11).
*Suffering can be used to demonstrate life to others (2 Cor. 4:12).
*Suffering can be used by God to manifest grace (2 Cor. 4:15).
*Suffering can actually be a means of edification for the believer (Rom. 8:28).
Although we may not know the reason for suffering on a personal level, the Bible does explain to us why suffering is present in our world. Suffering occurs because 1) we live in a fallen world (Rom. 8:18-22). 2) If we are out of God's will, we might reap the consequences of our actions (be it God's discipline or the natural outcome of our sinful choices) (Heb. 12:5-11) which causes suffering. 3) Or, if we are in God's will we may face trials or persecution which is a form of suffering as a result of our faith (1 Pet. 4:12-16).
It is never easy to suffer, or to watch someone we care about suffer. But there are some rewards, even benefits to suffering that strengthen our faith very much like what an athlete receives from rigorous training. We can expect trials to be a part of our daily walk and allow them to remind us of the suffering which Christ endured (1 Pet. 4:12-13; Rom. 8:18-23; Jn. 16:33). It is helpful to remember that the purpose of some trials or suffering is to strengthen our faith (1 Pet. 1:6-7; Jb. 23:9-11). God has given us commands to obey when we are facing trials (Js. 1:2, 5:13; 2 Tim. 2:3). He is interested in how we respond to them. When we are faced with suffering it is important that we remember God is sovereign in trials (Jer. 10:23; Is. 43:1-3; Ps. 23:4). This helps us to recognize that He is in control, is with us in the midst of our struggles, and He is working in us during them. He often uses our struggles to encourage other believers. God will use our suffering to comfort others who are also suffering (2 Cor. 1:3-4). While suffering is certainly not something we would choose to endure, it can strengthen us much like a bone becomes stronger when has healed after breaking (Rom. 5:3-5). And lastly, God has an eternal reward for those who endure suffering and trials (Js. 1:12; 2 Cor. 4:16-18) which gives us hope beyond the physical difficulties we face.
Ann LeFevre, M. Div.
https://www.annhlefevre.com; Olivetreeann@mail.com; https://www.linkedin.com/in/annhlefevre; https://www.facebook.com/ann.h.lefevre
Additional Resources: Discovery Series: Why Would A Good God Allow Suffering? Kurt De Haan, c. RBC Ministries, 1990/2001