Some Answers To Your Question on Suffering

Let’s say someone considers himself not a run-of-the-mill Christian. He’s been trying to be good, and he’s been trying to do good. If Christianity means filling up the forms and leaving no boxes unticked, he’s done a superb job in this area.Then, you ask, in spite of all these, why do good people like him still suffer?

Good people. There is a sense in which we may misunderstand the term “good.” The Bible says no one’s good but God (Matthew 19:17). If a man is said to be “good,” he is such only according to the world’s standards. But back to the question: Why do you, or I, suffer?

First, It is because the Lord wants me to exercise my freedom to bear or not to bear. That is not an off-the-cuff answer.

The Son of God, for instance, was free to choose, but He chose Calvary and its cross. And in choosing, He bore it all—the pain, and the humiliation of having to undergo that pain at the hands of the people He had created, and the painful thought of dying at the hands of those whom He had given life. Pause here for a while and think… Think of this as you are being shamed and disrespected by the very child who owed you her life…Do you see the analogy? The thought of that could give you much pain. But the pain that the Lord had felt was even greater.

So, to suffer is your choice. In having to suffer you must feel free. Not even God is going to take that freedom away from you.

Second, In the heart of this freedom to choose to suffer lies faith. Suffering gives God the opportunity to work in us, if we trust Him, if we allow Him. It is faith—or trust—in the one to whom we give our all: our life, our chance of escape, our prospect of surviving without a wound. It is faith–or trust–of the one who knows all, who knows us, who knows our future. All. Us. Our future–these are the things we don’t know but which He does. And the Son, in choosing to walk Calvary’s path, put His life at the hands of the Father who not only knows all but demands all. You know the rest of the story: He got the glory. But He got the glory only after He had agonized on Calvary.

Do you believe in a God powerful enough to have created this universe? Then trust Him, and let Him be. He has not yet bungled His job as the governor of the Universe, which includes the earth we live in. Trust Him as you suffer for Him. The planets keep following the orbital path He has laid for them, so they don’t clash. As you wander and as you suffer, let His spiritual path be your path also, for that path is the path that leads to His bosom. For it is in His bosom that we all find our eternal rest.

Third, To choose to suffer is to reveal the kind of stuff we are made of. If we love ourselves more, then we choose not to walk our own Calvary’s path. If in dealing with a problem we oftentimes choose the path of less resistance, more so it is character-revealing when we deal with suffering in the same way. It simply tells the world I am not worth it.

The path to glory is full of thorns and thistles. So what do I tell the world if I walk on it? That thorny path is also the path of worldly loss—loss of a career, loss of an opportunity to find a job, loss of a loved one, loss of a loving relationship, loss of influence, loss of friendship, loss of your all: you know what that means. In losing all these—these that seem to keep the world going and going—the world labels you with anything they can name under the sun: You are a pathetic character, a scum, a reject, a village bum, a scumbag if you know what that means. But if you don’t mind losing all, here’s the good news for you: In losing all, you gain what’s the best of all.

The strength of our character is shown not when things go our way. Suffering tests our character, and passing the test tells them our worth. What are you worth? Try it by walking your Calvary road.

Fourth, It is in suffering that I would come to know what’s wrong with me, and in knowing so I would be warned or forewarned. There is a danger if I am lured by the likes of Catherine Zeta Jones, Salma Hayek, Gretchen Barretto, or Ruffa Gutierrez, and if I choose to ignore the warning, then I am lost. Solomon chose to be lured by his seven hundred and his additional three hundred (1 Kings 11:3). One woman should have been enough, but he instead built a harem.

But it is not women alone that make our heart beat faster. I saw with my own eyes too how a man’s eyes brightened seeing a bundle of money, and how his fingers shook as he counted it, and how he stomped his feet as he stood there. Stomping as if he was trying to drive the devil away, when the real devil was already in his heart! It was money he did not earn. That shaking finger and that fast heartbeat—God did not put it in us without a reason. That shaking and that beating, to my way of thinking, is the conscience’s way of warning. And if my conscience shall not trouble me at all as I undergo temptations such as these—temptations that are lesser than Christ’s—then I do not know what shall!

Fifth, Suffering sharpens your focus of life, telling you that this is not what you ought to live for. That focus even becomes sharper as you live in enemy territory, and as you undergo harm, and as you are threatened further harm by the very people who keep telling you that they too are your brothers in the Lord. But if literal eyes are made for seeing what’s before you, spiritual eyes are made for seeing what’s beyond. Get up, rise, get back to your senses like that prodigal, and leave that pigsty. God made you to walk on twos, not on fours. The sooner that you crawl from that piggery farm that has been the scene of your hurts and your harms, and walk back to Him—this is focus–, the better it would be for your soul.

Sixth, Suffering makes me feel tired of this world and makes me long for heaven. I always imagine that I have two score baskets before me. One is filled with points, and the other is empty. One basket, the one that is filled, is called Earth; the empty basket is called Heaven. For each new pain that each new day brings, I get a point from the Earth basket and put it in the Heaven basket. Tell you what, brethren, the Heaven basket is almost full!

Seventh, As I suffer, I too am comforted by the truth that He is there. If I cry out, I do so in His presence. He is listening to my cries, He is seeing how I agonize. He has walked that road before, and I am walking that road now. I see Him, not at the end of the road, but in the middle of it. He has not left. He has stayed. He has seen how the sparrows fall, and they don’t fall without His consent. I know, because I believe in an omniscient God and because I am worth more than a million sparrows to Him. He knows our past, our present and our future. And if I trust in His promises, I can walk that path of suffering, and walk that again and again. For each suffering session, I learn more wisdom and gain more strength. And so I can suffer again and again.

Eighth, I am comforted by the fact that He is greater than my suffering and that no suffering is too great for us. I know this because I trust in His promise that He will not allow us to suffer more than we can bear. I know this too because He has promised us an exit. I don’t know how much I can bear, neither do I know how long I can bear. But He knows and He will. And that is enough.

Ninth, This world is in need of a good copy, be it of a software, a hardware, or a document. Christ became the copy. Exemplary Christians who copied Jesus also became copies for others to copy from. It is in suffering that I make myself a copy for others to emulate. We learn much from Paul, and from others who have gone on before us. And if we have passed the temptation without being scathed, then others would love to hear our story.

If Christian life means riding that conveyor belt that takes you to the end of the assembly line, and if nothing goes amiss with the conveyor belt, and your dismantled life has now been properly assembled, then you expect to be placed in a package and properly wrapped for delivery—to heaven. Is that not what we are aiming for? Hope this article helps you.

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