Suffering Draws Us Closer To God

Our love for God is compromised when we love the things of this world. Suffering helps to strip away any pretense in our relationship with God. It weans us from all that is not God so that we might learn to love our Heavenly Father for who He is. Augustine said, “God wants to give us something, but cannot, because our hands are full – there’s nowhere for him to put it.” Suffering empties our hands so that God can give us the true treasure of life. God knows that the joy of life can only be found in Him. But we may not seek Him as long as we think happiness can be found another way. If our own natural life remains pleasant, there is no felt reason to surrender it. Suffering makes our own natural lives less agreeable.

We live in a world of moral conflict. The battle between good and evil has brought a suffering that even God shares. He suffers because of what sin has done to His creation. Isaiah said, “In all their distress he too was distressed” (Isaiah 63:9). This reality of evil and the true nature of God’s love for us would not be known except through the experience of suffering. The only way in which moral evil can enter into the consciousness of the morally good, is as suffering. A person who is both evil and happy has no understanding that his actions are not in accord with the moral laws of the universe.

Suffering has a way of binding people together. It provides opportunity for us to minister to each other. Such ministry serves to bring people together and promotes unity among believers and that is what Jesus is praying for (John 17:21). “The Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (1 Corinthians 1:3,4). In the midst of any suffering, we first need to believe that God is always in control of our suffering. We may never know the full reasons for all the sufferings we endure, but we know that God will use our sufferings for our good and His. God always has a purpose for what He does and allows. Second, God always has a limit on the amount of suffering He allows for each of us. For instance, Satan could not touch Job’s life. Some saints like Job and Paul obviously have broader shoulders that enable them to suffer more for righteousness sake. Third, God’s presence will enable us to withstand the pressure of suffering if we turn to Him. If we cast our cares on Him, He will sustain us (Psalm 55:22), but He may not remove the suffering until His perfect will is accomplished. The will of God will not take us where the grace of God cannot sustain us.

Dr. Neil

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