Biblical Response to Suffering
In our series with Dr. Erwin Lutzer called “Pandemics, Plagues, and Natural Disasters: What Is God Saying to Us?”, program three addresses the Bible’s response to suffering. From the world’s perspective, pain is something negative to be avoided or removed. However, God allows difficulties for several possible reasons. Instead of only seeking to avoid pain, the Bible offers other means of responding to suffering. What is a Biblical response to suffering?
God calls us to praise Him when we suffer
James 1:2-4 teaches, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Since trials lead to maturity, we can and should praise God through our struggles.
Suffering is a natural and normal aspect of life in our fallen world
God created our world as good, but not perfect. As sin entered the world, the consequences of sin began to extend across humanity. Today we sometimes endure suffering that is not due to any fault of our own, but rather due to the fallen nature of our world.
Realize suffering is under God’s control.
God may allow suffering, but He also has the power to relieve or stop it whenever He desires. In the book of Job, he suffered terrible pain as part of a period of testing in his life. God later healed Job, blessing the later part of his life more than the earlier part of his life. We may not understand why God allows suffering, but we can trust He is in control of our situation.
God is with us through our pain.
Matthew 28:20 promises Jesus is with us always. He does not leave during difficult times, even when we feel He is silent. Instead, He remains with us, even if everyone else leaves, offering love and hope during our darkest hour.
Remember suffering is temporary
Human suffering began in the Garden of Eden following the fall of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3). However, sin will not remain with us forever. For believers, we will escape sin the moment our life ends and we live with the Lord for eternity. At the end of time, God will create a new heaven and earth where His people will live with Him without sin forever (Revelation 21-22).
Suffering is not enjoyable, but the Bible does offer ways to face it. When we praise God in all circumstances, understand suffering is part of this world, know God is in control, realize He is with us, and remember suffering is temporary, we can better endure the difficult times we face in this world.
Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). He knows our troubles and will help us overcome them as we continue to trust in Him.