I have been asked many times by many different people in ministry why we have to suffer in this world. They normally say it like this. “If God is truly in charge then why do bad things happen?” Why is all this stuff happening to good people? Why am I suffering?
It is something I think every Christian has heard from their non-believing, and believing friends. We all want to have great lines to say to them because we want to help them through their sorrow. Often we say things like God doesn’t give us more than we can handle… PLEASE STOP SAYING THIS TO PEOPLE! When you are going through the death of a loved one, lose of a job, betrayal of a friend, this doesn’t help, it just turns people against the one thing that can bring them hope. Sometimes life really does give us more than we can handle on our own. We sometimes do need others to walk beside us. We need Christ in our life to help us through this time of suffering.
So I go back to why do we have to suffer? Paul in Romans 5:1-5 helps us see this suffering for what it is.
5 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. ESV
suffering is a result of sin, not just our sin or others sin, but sin that is in the world. Sin causes all forms of pain in this life. Sin a three letter word that causes so much damage. Romans 5 1-8 talks about the suffering we have but that we also have peace with God. We have suffering because of the sin in our lives. When you wake up in the morning with pain, this is a result of sin. When you have a broken relationship in your life it is a result of sin. Mostly in that case it is your sin and someone else’s sin. When a loved one dies to early of something like cancer it is a result of sin in the world. Sin has wrecked everything. Yet we have hope that in this life and the world to come Jesus is bringing his whole creation back to perfection. We can have hope that one day we will not have pain, we will not have broken relationships, we will not have death anymore. We know that we suffer now for a little while so that all people might be saved.
Next time a friend, or family member asks why do we have to suffer? You can remind them it is sin. Its the simple answer that may not be the most comforting but it is the truth. Also remind them we can give thanks to Christ who came to overcome sin, death and the power of the devil. That one day their will be no more sorrow and no more pain in this world. This suffering is only for a little while here on earth. I am reminded lastly that as follower of Jesus who has gone through suffering I pray my response to this is like the prophet Habakkuk.
Habakkuk 3:17-19 ESV
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
19 God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places.