This is perhaps one of, if not the most asked question of all time and a subject that has brought much controversy and confusion since the days of Job. This issue is the reason many claim to not believe or even forsake their belief in God. Let me be quick to say I certainly don’t have the answer, but as one who has both seen and been through much suffering, I have a few thoughts to share on the matter.
As a victim of childhood sexual abuse, I experienced trauma that leaves deep wounds in the soul causing confusion, distrust, low self-esteem, anger and identity issues to name a few. This later led to many poor choices in young adulthood that brought more pain and regret. I reached one of my lowest points in my early 30s when I seriously contemplated suicide though I was married with two small children and all the material things most people would love to have.
It was at that point I cried out to God telling Him I no longer wanted my life and if He did, He could have it and do whatever He wanted with it. Things began to change very quickly but it was not all for the good. In my late 20s I had been diagnosed with a degenerative bone disorder that my doctor told me would require having both of my hips replaced. After crying out to God that day a few years later, I came to the point of needing surgery.
Within two years I had both hips replaced with unexpected life threatening complications after both surgeries. Five years later I was told both hips had failed and would need replacing again. By this time I was attending Bible college, teaching at a local women’s shelter, serving in my church, homeschooling our two girls, and participating in a citywide prayer group. I didn’t understand why this was happening again, especially after I had given my life to Jesus and was serving Him as best as I knew how.
Over the next two years I went through the surgeries again with the same life threatening complications after one of them. I questioned if God was even real and if so, did He know or care about what I was going through. I became angry with Him though I didn’t realize it at the time. After recovering from the surgeries I received much healing and deliverance ministry and a few years later God called me into full time healing, deliverance, and prayer ministry.
Three years after starting the ministry I fell twice within thirteen months, breaking my left femur both times and had to have yet another hip replacement – the third on my left hip. Two years after the second fall an infection developed in my left leg and I have been battling that for almost two years now. Though I certainly don’t understand all of this, I can say with certainty that God has proved Himself faithful through it all.
I believe that suffering exists to a large degree because we live in a fallen world that came through the sin of our ancestors, Adam and Eve. Sin and suffering were never God’s intent but He allowed us freedom to choose and unfortunately their choice brought suffering upon the whole world. Much suffering comes as a result of our own poor choices as well as those of others. We also have an enemy that is out to steal, kill and destroy as much as possible in our lives. (John 10:10)
Even so, God in His goodness didn’t just sit back and watch us suffer, instead He chose to enter into it so that He could identify with us in it. Stripping Himself of His divine power, He willingly chose to take on our frame and become like us in every way. Yet unlike us, He resisted every temptation and sin known to man. In the most inconceivable and incomprehensible act of suffering and injustice ever to be seen in human history, He actually became sin on our behalf so that we could receive what we could never deserve through our efforts – the life He intended us to have from the beginning.
Though suffering is very much a part of life in this age, God promises to bring good from it when we love Him and submit to His ways by His grace. (Rom. 8:28) Suffering is the primary means He uses to conform us into the image of His Son, the One who “learned obedience from what He suffered.” (Heb. 5:8) Though I don’t understand all of what that means, I am learning to trust that He always knows what is best for me. Suffering doesn’t mean He is angry or that He is punishing us, though that is what I once believed and what many still believe. It is not always a result of sin as Job’s friends believed and wrongly accused him of, as many continue to presume today.
He IS good even in the midst of suffering and He has proved that over and over again. The day will soon come that He will “wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Rev. 7:17) and suffering and pain will be no more. Until that time He promises to comfort us in our troubles, that we might comfort others in theirs with the comfort we receive from Him, for He is the God of all comfort. (2 Cor. 1:3-4)
How has He brought good out of your suffering?