7 Reasons for Suffering
Part of living in a fallen world is the reality that sin has corrupted every nature of our lives on earth. The most obvious - and deeply felt - result of this corruption shared by all people is suffering. We suffer from a variety of causes: relational schisms; environmental catastrophes (e.g., tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes); disease; and more. The list producing our suffering goes on and on, all because of The Fall (Genesis 3:14-19).
However, the good news for the Christian is that there are promises in Scripture that we will overcome these trials; we will share in Christ's victory. We are to take heart, for Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33). We are to be encouraged, for our trials are not unique to us, but experienced by our brotherhood throughout the world (1 Peter 5:9), and we will be given the means of escaping temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). Despite the abandonment many of us face from friends and family, the Lord will never forsake us (Psalm 27:10).
As you can see, Scripture is replete with promises that we will overcome and finally conquer, sharing in Christ's victory, as the one who never forsakes us. However, there remains this life to be lived in the meantime, and we should be engaged in becoming more like Christ until we finally meet him again. In his mini-book, When Trouble Shows Up: Seeing God's Transforming Love, Dr. Robert D. Jones shares from Scripture seven sanctifying benefits of suffering. If you'd like to commit these to memory, it may be easier to think of them as The 7 E's of Suffering.
God lovingly uses your troubles to:
- enhance your relationship with Him (Psalm 3:1-4).
- help you experience Christ’s sufferings (Philippians 3:1-4).
- expose your remaining sin (Romans 8:28-29).
- engage you in the body of Christ (Romans 12:15).
- exhibit Christ’s work in you (Matthew 5:13-16).
- equip you for wiser, more compassionate ministry (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
- elevate your longing for Christ’s return (1 Peter 1:6-7).
As you can see, each of Dr. Jones' 7 E's find their support in Scripture and ultimately aid the sanctification process for the one who is able to clear his heart from all anger and bitterness, and consider what the Lord may have in store for him.
However, this is not a mere list that should be skimmed over and discarded; I encourage you to spend time this week meditating on the truths found in the Scripture passages outlined above, and consider how the Lord might be working in your life to bring about your greater good, as one who is called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). And above all, Christian, remember this: the Lord of the universe has begun a good work in you, and he will see it through to completion (Philippians 1:6).