Why We Suffer as Christians

I recently read an excellent book called “Broken Things – Why We Suffer”. This was a huge encouragement to me since it gives common sense reasons why many of us as Christians often go through great trials and suffering while on this earth. The following is a summary of the reasons stated in this book:-

1. Suffering Silences Satan – when we are willing to go through suffering without abandoning our faith, it proves to Satan that we are not just serving God for what He can do for us, but for who He is. This is demonstrated in the book of Job where Satan accuses Job of worshipping God only for the riches and blessings that God can give him. When Job was then greatly afflicted and all his good fortune was taken away, Job did not curse God, but remained faithful. This was shown in Job’s words “ The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away ; blessed be the name of the Lord”. Job 1:21

2. Suffering Enables us to Glorify God – many people have to go through excruciating trials eg. healing from childhood sexual abuse, severe racial injustices, marital abuse, a painful terminal illness etc. Some of these trials may continue for many years. However when God finally delivers us from them, His name can be praised and glorified. Even while we are going through these trials and have not received final or total deliverance, God can still give us the supernatural strength to endure so we are not totally defeated. In this way God is also glorified. This is shown in John 11:5 when after great sorrow at the death of Lazarus, Jesus came to raise him from the dead giving praise to God’s name.

3. Suffering Makes Us More Like Christ – God does not wish to save us just to forgive our sins so we’ll go to heaven. His dual purpose is to also make us more like Christ. As a result we can then reflect God’s glory to the rest of mankind and help make this world a better place. Romans 8:29 says that God’s intention is to conform us to the image of His Son. Often we can only be perfected through trials and suffering. Hebrews 2:10.

4. Suffering Makes Us Appreciative – often when we are in bed with a bad case of the flu, we begin to appreciate the blessing of having good health. While we are healthy we often take it for granted. When things are taken away from us we learn to appreciate them more & thank God for them. Without trials and suffering we may become self centered people who are always wanting more.

5. Suffering Teaches Us To Depend On God – when everything is going fine and rosy we often feel less need for God. We may tend to forget about Him and even survive by relying on our own strength and resources. However when we encounter suffering it compels us to cry out to Him for help. At these times we learn to trust and depend on Him. God desires this because he knows He can provide much better and way beyond what we can do for ourselves. He also wants close fellowship with us on a personal level. In Exodus 14:13 when the Israelites stood before the Red Sea with the Egyptians behind them and the desert and mountains on each side,  Moses said “ Stand firm  and you will see  the salvation the Lord will bring you today”.

6. Suffering Makes Us and Keeps Us Humble -Learning to depend on God requires us to be humble and can be a blow to our pride. God hates pride but exalts the humble. This is why Paul was given a “thorn in the flesh”. 2 Corinthians 12:7. We don’t know what this was. Some think it was a hunchback, speech impediment or a certain illness. However God allowed this so that Paul would remain humble and always acknowledge his need for God’s help.  Paul was a highly educated scholar from good breeding.  Perhaps God knew that Paul needed something to keep him humble.

7. In Suffering We Exercise Faith– In Hebrews 11:1 it says “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” While going through suffering – not knowing the outcome and when it will cease, it forces us to exercise our faith in God. This in turn helps our faith to grow. If we knew what will happen in the future & when, then we would not need faith. In learning to exercise faith we are learning to put our trust and security in God and his character rather than the things of this world. A faith that is not tested will never be strong. If you are suffering and asking “Why must I suffer? Why can’t I be like others?” remember God’s words in Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

8. Suffering Teaches Us Patience – Have any of you been waiting a very long time for an answer to prayer? Perhaps it is a healing, a loved one to come to Christ or a breakthrough in a certain area? The waiting time in this trial teaches us patience and this is one of the fruits of the spirit – Galatians 5:22. The more time we have to wait the more we will grow in patience. During this waiting time it compels us to seek God’s word for comfort & faith and learn to trust that God knows best for our situation. It also forces us to give up control of our own lives.

9. Suffering Makes Us Sympathetic – ever met people who are hard of heart, unmerciful and even condescending to the poor, marginalized and those going through trials? It may be because they have never had to go through suffering in their own lives to be able to empathize with those who do. There is nothing like a period of trial, to help give us true compassion and empathy for the hurting. Often it is only when we are humbled and broken in spirit from suffering, that we can begin to allow God to open up our hearts to the hurting people around us in society and take some action to help them out.

10. Suffering Teaches Us To Pray – only when we go through great suffering do we learn to pray with earnest from the depths of our soul and spirit – often because there is nothing left that we can do. In doing so we learn to commune with the heart of God and foster a closer and more intimate relationship with Him.

11. Suffering Brings Rewards – De Haan states that there is a “special crown, a special reward for those who suffer patiently for Him”. In 2 Timothy 2:12 Paul says that “ If we suffer we will also reign with Him”. This helps to make more sense of some of the deepest suffering that some Christians have to face. It also helps to bring a sense of justice into our lives here on earth”.

Conclusion

The above are the main points that DeHaan describes as to “Why We Suffer” as Christian believers. He also talks about the need for brokenness in our lives to be fully used by God for his purposes and gives more encouragement for those who suffer, throughout the book.

If you would like to obtain a copy of this thin paperback – “Broken Things – Why We Suffer” you can contact:-

Email : australia@rbc.org OR

Address: RBC Ministries South Pacific Ltd
PO Box 393
GLEN WAVERLY VIC 3150

The book is free or you can make a donation.

NB. The author M R DeHaan founded “Radio Bible Class”, now RBC Ministries who produce the free “Our Daily Bread” devotional booklets. They also publish other books teaching materials and online Christian courses.

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