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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: How Can a Person Live with Suffering?

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How Can a Person Live with Suffering?

God and Us – Question 16

We must understand that suffering is something that all of us, believer and unbeliever alike, will experience in this life. Paul wrote the following to the Thessalonians.

...so that no one would be shaken by these persecutions. Indeed, you yourselves know that this is what we are destined for. (1 Thessalonians 3:3 NRSV)

Even Jesus Christ suffered. In fact, His suffering was the means God used to accomplish our eternal salvation. The Bible does not promise believers escape from suffering. A number of points need to be made about suffering.

1. Believers Will Sometimes Suffer More than Unbelievers

Sometimes the believer will seemingly suffer more than the unbeliever. This is because the unbelieving world hates those who stand for God’s truth. Jesus spoke of this to His disciples on the night of His betrayal. We read the following words of our Lord.

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” (John 15:18, 19 NASB)

Notice that the world hates us because they hated Him first. This is because we are not of this world-system.

Peter wrote of the persecutions the believers would receive for doing the right things. He told us that these sufferings should not cause us to become upset.

But even if you suffer for doing what God approves, you are blessed. Don’t be afraid of those who want to harm you. Don’t get upset. (1 Peter 3:14 God’s Word).

We will suffer but we should not allow the suffering to cause us to become upset or discouraged.

The Apostle Paul spoke of the various persecutions he experienced. He also emphasized that other Christians would also suffer persecution. He put it this way.

You also know about the kind of persecutions and sufferings which happened to me in the cities of Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. I endured those persecutions, and the Lord rescued me from all of them. Those who try to live a godly life because they believe in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil people and phony preachers will go from bad to worse as they mislead people and are themselves misled. (2 Timothy 3:11-13 God’s Word)

Therefore, the believer should not be surprised when suffering occurs.

2. God Made Promises to Believers Who Suffer

However God has made promises to the believer when he is suffering. King David said,

I may walk through valleys as dark as death, but I won’t be afraid. You are with me, and your shepherd’s rod makes me feel safe. (Psalm 23:4 CEV)

God has promised to be with and comfort those who suffer. Though God has promised to be with us we may not always understand why we are suffering. God has not obligated Himself to tell us why we suffer but He asks us to trust Him through our sufferings.

3. Suffering Led Job to Surrender to God

After experiencing tremendous suffering, the biblical character Job reached the point of surrendering himself to God. He then humbly said,

“I know that you can do everything and that your plans are unstoppable. You said, ‘Who is this that belittles my advice without having any knowledge about it?’ Yes, I have stated things I didn’t understand, things too mysterious for me to know. You said,} ‘Listen now, and I will speak. I will ask you, and you will teach me.’ I had heard about you with my own ears, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. That is why I take back what I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show that I am sorry.” (Job 42:2-6 God’s Word)

From this we learn a valuable lesson. Our suffering can cause us to surrender our entire heart, soul, and mind to the Lord. Suffering, though difficult, is something which we can live with.

Summary – Question 16
How Can a Person Live with Suffering?

Those who believe in the God of the Bible are not promised relief from suffering in this life. Indeed, sometimes believers in Jesus Christ seemingly suffer more than non-believers. The Bible says that we should not think it strange if we suffer.

Indeed, Jesus said that since He was hated by the world that we too should expect to be hated. We have been warned about this ahead of time.

Scripture also says that we will be persecuted for doing the right thing. When this happens we should not become upset or discouraged. While we cannot help being persecuted we can be in control of our response.

God has made promises to be with the believer who is suffering. We need to claim these promises. We may not always understand why we suffer. However, we know that the Lord is always there for us when we suffer.

We find that suffering led the biblical character to Job to trust the Lord all the more. We should follow His example when we suffer.

Our entire being should trust in Him in these times of suffering. He has promised to be with us during these difficult times.

Thus, we can, by God’s grace, learn to live with suffering.

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