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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: Can Suffering Have Positive Benefits?

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Can Suffering Have Positive Benefits?

God and Us – Question 15

Suffering is something which every human being faces. While no one likes to suffer, suffering can indeed bring about a number of positive benefits. They include the following.

1. Suffering Shows Us Our Need for God and It Shows His Concern for Us

If human beings did not suffer, there would be no need to turn to God. As long as things are going well, many people would think it is not necessary to acknowledge God’s existence. Suffering makes us aware of our need for God. It also reminds us of His concern for us.

2. It Helps Us Turn to God for Help

One of the main benefits of suffering is the sufferer turning to God. Sometimes we are embarrassed to ask God for help. This is especially true if we do not talk to Him that often.

However He wants us to turn to Him when difficulties arise. Scripture is full of examples of people who turned to God when they were suffering.

The children of Israel, when they suffered in Egypt, turned to God for deliverance. The Bible says the following.

The LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings.” (Exodus 3:7 NASB)

The people cried out to God when they were oppressed by the Egyptians. The Lord delivered them from their suffering. This example is for all of us to follow.

When we suffer as God’s children the Lord has promised to deliver us. However, we must first turn to Him.

3. It Can Help Us Turn to Others

Suffering can also help us reach out to others. When we see someone in a difficult situation it can cause us to reach out to that person and help his or her predicament. Paul wrote the following to the Corinthians about how our previous suffering can help the suffering of others.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NRSV)

The Contemporary English Version puts it this way.

Praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! The Father is a merciful God, who always gives us comfort. He comforts us when we are in trouble, so that we can share that same comfort with others in trouble. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 CEV)

We can comfort others with the comfort we received when we were suffering. This is why it is necessary to reach out to those who have experienced similar difficulties.

4. Suffering Can Refine Our Character

Our character is refined through suffering. Many qualities are brought out when suffering. This includes patience and trust. Simon Peter wrote about this. We read the following words from him.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. (1 Peter 4:12, 13 NASB)

The Contemporary English Version puts it this way.

Dear friends, don’t be surprised or shocked that you are going through testing that is like walking through fire. Be glad for the chance to suffer as Christ suffered. It will prepare you for even greater happiness when he makes his glorious return. (1 Peter 4:12, 13 CEV)

Indeed, we should not be surprised when we experience suffering or testing. Just as Jesus our Lord suffered so shall we also experience suffering.

In the Book of Job, we read of how God uses suffering for our benefit. The Bible says,

“He delivers the afflicted in their affliction, and opens their ear in time of oppression.” (Job 36:15 NASB)

Our ears do become open to the truths of the Lord when we suffer. Suffering will indeed bring out a number of qualities in our character.

5. It Can Help Us Appreciate the Suffering of Christ

Finally, our own suffering can help us appreciate the suffering that Jesus Christ went through on our behalf. He suffered the penalty for our sins so that we do not have to suffer.

The Apostle Paul wrote the following about the work of Christ on the cross.

God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 NET)

Our appreciation for His suffering will increase as we understand, in a personal way, how suffering can affect us.

Therefore, while suffering isn’t pleasant, it can have positive results.

Summary – Question 15
Can Suffering Have Positive Benefits?

As human beings each of us will experience suffering in this life. This is something which we all understand. Some will suffer more than others. Although no one likes to suffer, it can have some positive benefits.

For one thing, it makes it clear that we need God. Indeed, when believers suffer we immediately turn our thoughts toward Him. We know that we have a need and we also know who can meet this need. When we are not suffering we tend to forget how much we need Him. Suffering brings us back to reality.

As we read the Scripture we find numerous examples of the suffering of God’s people. We also discover that when they were undergoing suffering they turned to Him for help. The Bible also tells us that He responded to their suffering and delivered them.

In the same way, when we are suffering we realize that we can experience deliverance through Him. Consequently we will turn to Him for help.

Suffering can also help believers turn to each other. We can seek out those who have gone through similar circumstances when we are suffering. They can help us get through the problem. In the same way, we can minister to others if they are going through some type of suffering which we have previously experienced.

When suffering does occur we should look for opportunities to trust in God and develop our character. Indeed, the Bible says that our character is refined through the fiery trials we experience. We should use these opportunities to grow spiritually.

Suffering also makes one appreciate the suffering of Jesus Christ. He suffered on our behalf; the innocent for the guilty. When we experience our own suffering it makes us thankful for what He has gone through for us.

Suffering will be here as long as we live in these bodies. It is something we will have to live with. However, if there were no suffering in life, then we would not appreciate the blessings that come with the deliverance we experience from the suffering.

Why Does God Allow People to Suffer? ← Prior Section
How Can a Person Live with Suffering? Next Section →
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