I was doing a Bible Study this week and the question was asked, “when in your life have you felt closest to God?” Almost all of the participants shared that, for them, it was during a time of hardship and suffering. I know this to be true for myself – my times of greatest suffering have been the times where I have drawn closest to God. I even read an article that called suffering a “misunderstood gift”. We just don’t tend to turn to God as much when things are going well.
Let’s explore the concept of suffering a little more. Suffering is defined as the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship. Why do we suffer? Well, suffering was not part of God’s original plan. The Bible teaches us that when God made the world, it was perfect. There was no evil, no pain, and no suffering. But there were boundaries – and Adam and Eve chose to go their own way rather than follow God’s way. This created a divide between us as humans and God, and allowed evil and suffering into the world. Thankfully, God works powerfully in and through suffering to draw us to Himself.
These Scriptures provide us with reassurance that is with us during our difficulties:
Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6,8
When you experience hardship:
- Rely on God to comfort you and remember that suffering can help you get closer to Him, depend on Him, and even learn to be more like Him.
- Instead of asking “Why, God?”, ask the question, “What do you want to accomplish in and through me with this situation?”.
- Think of ways that you may be able to use your suffering to help others going through similar things in their lives. I can think of countless examples where people have become involved with a particular cause or group to help others going through similar difficulties.
Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little.” 1 Peter 5:10
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Leslie Speas
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