Why Suffering exists?
“Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.
For he does not willingly bring affliction,
Or grief to the children of men.”
There are many people in the world who often complain, “If Our Loving God really exists, then why do we have adversity and suffering in our lives? Why does He only seem to watch? Why does He leave those Communists unbothered, for instance, so that they may terrify and torture us? Why do so many people lose their lives to severe floods? Why does He leave us with incurable disease?
Clearly, there is much adversity and suffering in the world. But because He does not like to see us afflicted with them, God never leaves us abandoned in them. In today’s Scripture, you find the phrase, “For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.” In other words, suffering and calamities exist because they benefit us. But how do they benefit us?
1. Seek and Believe God
While enjoying himself playing outside with his friends during the day, a child doesn’t think about his mother or father. But if he is suddenly faced with some danger, he’ll run inside shouting, “Mom!”
Man is destined to live serving his God, the Creator, Source and Giver of all blessings, but he seems to like living an incorrigible life instead, betraying and rebelling against God, with his own will. It is only when he suffers from some adversity that he finally seeks and calls out to God Almighty. Man lives depending upon himself until he is thrown into despair; only then does he seeks God and rely on Him. While the Israelites lived peacefully in Egypt, the people neither sought God nor cried out His name. Only when they suffered torment under Pharaoh did they seek God’s grace, crying out His name. When we are at peace in the world, and our desires are of the world, we don’t freely seek God and rely on Him. But, when we crash against the wall of despair, we surrender to Him, crying out, “Father, I stretch out my hands to Thee.”
Some people declare, “If You let me marry that woman, then I’ll believe in Jesus,” or, “If You let me deliver a boy, I’ll have sincere faith in God.” But even though these wishes are granted, we can hardly find the person who, as promised, becomes a good Christian, and expresses his sincere thanks while believing firmly in God.
Your dear husband or wife may be dying. Your sincere husband may be cheating. Your precious child may be dying from some disease. Such instances of severe suffering can be the opportunity for going forward to God; a business failure or an affliction from disease may push you to seek God - we encounter this often. People who are at peace and do not face any temptation certainly don’t think they have to believe in Jesus.
Therefore, even if you feel severe pain due to suffering and calamities, God is leading you – His child – to Himself, through this pain. Please believe firmly if you can immediately realize this, and turn towards God. This brings profit to you as well as God’s unlimited grace and blessing.
2. Yearn For heaven
John Calvin said, “The vast amount of suffering surrounding us gives us a mind which yearns for God.” Brothers, if you live peacefully and happily in this world, heaven or the existence of heaven will not interest you. But when you are afflicted with suffering and calamities in this world, you will yearn for the eternal Kingdom of God, where there is no grief, anxiety or affliction. While the Israelites lived comfortably in Egypt, they didn’t miss or desire to return to Canaan, the Promised Land. But when they were suffering unendurable pain and oppression, the desire for Canaan grew in their minds.
Brothers! Believe that God drives us from grief, disease and even death in this world, towards eternal heaven, where there are no tears, there is no second death, there is no grief and no pain.
So, any suffering and calamities we experience in the world can benefit us. There is suffering in this world but – the world will disappear like the morning fog – if we can realize God’s will. Although we suffer in this world, God wishes us exempt from the punishment of endless hellfire and offers us instead an eternity of sweet rest in heaven.
So, even if we meet with adversity during our short lives of less than 100 years, this will be much more beneficial to us in having eternal happiness in heaven.
3. That We May Obey Almighty God
Many cases of suffering and calamities are caused by our living incorrigible lives, through our own will, and committing sins without obedience to God. We can see many people who disobey God, and live incorrigible lives by their own will and only recognize and repent their sins after having suffered greatly. In Psalm 119:67, the author confesses, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word,” and in 119:71 declares, “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.”
Therefore, whenever we suffer any disease or adversity, it is not a punishment for God’s dislike of us, but it is a “beating” with God’s love to make us live in accordance with His will.
King David was faced with great adversity and suffering in his youth, but committed no sins. Later, when his life was blessed with peace, he one day arose from an afternoon sleep, and walked out onto his roof. From his roof he saw a woman bathing; he committed the sin of sleeping with her. She bore him a son, who one day became seriously ill. David repented for his sins, and prayed to God, pleading for His mercy, while wearing sackcloth, and fasting for one week. However, the child died. Upon learning of his son’s death, he calmly had a meal, and turned his attention to national affairs, without showing his grief. His act filled his attendants with astonishment and wonder. David thought of himself as a sinner deservant of punishment. He did not resent God or blame anyone for his suffering.
Brothers! In Hebrews 12:6, it is said, “Because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” 12:8 reads, “If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.” And 12:11 says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
Therefore, believe the above will be good for us, and receive God’s grace and blessing. If we obey God through calamities, suffering and failure, we can learn the way of life in accordance with His revealed will.
4. That We May Have Endurance and Power.
I recently read an article in an American magazine about a five-thousand year old tree. How can it live for such a long time? The ground where it stands is not fertile. It stands high on a windy hill, and the soil is rocky. Despite these negative factors, the tree stretches its roots deeply into the ground, and has survived for over five thousand years, while the other trees around it have withered and died.
Likewise, God’s love doesn’t just take care of us like flowers in a greenhouse. Such flowers are likely to wither and die when basked in strong sunshine or touched by cold weather. The Lord does not want people who are like greenhouse flowers. He wants us to be believers, with faith strong enough to help us endure and overcome any calamity, ordeal or adversity. To make us such believers, even though He does not really want it, God Himself allows us to suffer from ordeals and adversity.
In some places in Africa, if you want to cross a raging river, you must carry a large stone on your back. Without this weight you are likely to be swept away; those who really want to cross the river will bear the weight of the large stone.
In the same manner, when our spirit remains in peace, we do not pray, we dislike going to church, and we become lazy in our life of faith. Once we face a terrific storm and enormous waves, we sincerely cry out for God, our belief grows and our spirit reaches maturity. Remember, the Lord grants us the endurance and strength to overcome anything surrounding us, by letting us believe in and pray towards Himself through ordeal and despair.
When the Israelites, led by Moses, reached the Desert of Paran, the Lord had Moses choose 12 people to explore the land of Canaan. After returning from exploring the land, they reported to the Israelites. Ten reports were negative, anxious; they said, “The people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified. We are like grasshoppers in the eyes of very large people.” Numbers 13:28-33. Only Joshua and Caleb made positive and encouraging reports, saying, “They are food we can swallow up. Don’t be afraid of them, but strike then instead.”
Why did they refer to them as food? If it is easily digested, good food can be a source of energy and health. Yet some calamities and trials can be like food, too; if we accept them and digest them, we can get power!
Brothers! There has never been a servant of God who has not experienced such adversity that it drove him to despair and discouragement.
I’m not yet a pastor of great renown, but I preach the Gospel, lead revival meetings and serve to bring non-believers to Salvation in God. I can tell you with confidence – because I have suffered much adversity and despair for my age - that these things are possible. If I had grown in ease and comfort, without suffering, I wouldn’t be qualified to speak to you like this.
When calamities and adversity confront you, don’t complain foolishly. Don’t be discouraged. Instead, pray to God thankfully, asking, “My Lord, how much will you bless me after this calamity. Thank you for it.”
When facing a trial, the weak in faith don’t endure it, but abandon their faith, saying, “I wanted to believe firmly in God. Why should I be tried this way?” If you believe in Jesus, you will experience more trials and disease than before. They will make you sincerely thankful for God’s grace once you have stood their test, and been blessed.
From here on, I’d like to tell you about several ways to overcome adversity and trials.
1) Repent and Turn From Your Wicked Ways
2 Chronicles 7:14, reads, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” If you repent, seek and pray to God with humbleness while you are undergoing adversity or trial, the Lord will rid you of them and heal you.
2) Bear Your Cross Voluntarily
It is troublesome to have to take care of other people’s babies. However, when you hold your own baby in your arms, you don’t feel any pain, but instead enjoy playing with him. In any case, when you find yourself suffering from adversity, bear your cross willingly and voluntarily with faith. And then the Lord will let you escape your adversity and suffering. If you are destined to suffer, then experience such suffering and adversity with faith, to bring you God’s blessing.
Even though Moses could have been King of Egypt, as the son of a princess, he gave up everything and suffered with his people. It seemed stupid. But we can read in the Bible that he was blessed and awarded his heavenly portion. I’d like to ask you in Jesus’ name to experience this fact: For the adversity which you overcome with faith, God rewards you with blessings and also protects you from further adversity.
3) Keep Good Faith and Prepare Your Life of Prayer
At the moment you face adversity and trials, do not cry out, “Oh God! Please save me,” but instead, keep good faith and prepare your life of prayer before the moment of your trial. We should pray for ourselves, our home, our church and for our country, with a straight mind. If we live a self-centered life, without prayer, we ourselves, but also our home and country can suffer from indescribable adversity. Do not forget this.
In the Bible, God commanded Noah to make an Ark for the Flood. This Ark had three decks. Do you know why?
With the floodwaters surging, from the bottom deck were seen only the wild waves outside. From the middle deck there was seen a vast expanse of muddy water. The clear sky was not seen until the third deck. The clear sky reminded Noah and his people of God’s promise and called them to pray to God.
What does the bottom deck mean in spiritual terms? It means the desires and eyes of the flesh; facing the flood of adversity with the desires and eyes of the flesh, we can only drop into despair. The second deck is our soul (human mind), and its meaning is not different from that of the first case. You can only see the entire expanse with eyes of faith and hope – from the third deck. Even if our national affairs are in confusion and the household economy is in a miserable condition, we can still live with hope and joy. Therefore, in meeting the flood of adversity and calamity, do not see it with the eyes of the flesh. Do not try to solve it with your own knowledge or wisdom. I’d like to bless you in Jesus’ name, that you may overcome with spiritual eyes – that is, by believing in God and praying and living a successful life.
4) Cast Your Life on God Entirely
In 1 Peter 5:7, we read, “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” When you suffered from burdens like care, anxiety, discomfort and adversity – you did so alone. But that was the past. From now on entrust your life to Him entirely. Come toward the Cross and cast your burdens of sin on Him and He will take care of and take responsibility for them. Hallelujah!
5) Give Up Your Self-Centered Life
If you live a self-centered life, you may feel anxious and pained. However, if you try to do good for other people, you will feel happy. A self-centered person does not give comfort to himself or other people – husband, wife, children, or church fellows.
When you prefer sowing seeds of self-sacrifice to doing deeds for admiration or glory, you will be happy and your life will be more brilliant. Do not live a self-centered life! Have a holy mind and try to help other people, and live to glorify God.
Jesus clearly tells us in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Remember, true comfort without adversity is given to those who give up a self-centered life, embrace a God-centered life, do good for other people and live solemnly for God’s glory.
In 1 Corinthians 10:31 we are told, “So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
I’d like to pray in Jesus’ name – may you be blessed in your life by remembering and complying with these words.