Pastor, Why? #12: Why Do Christians Suffer?

The New Testament theology of suffering is quite foreign to our 21st century American mindset. It’s truths can only be understood a personal relationship with our Heavenly Father. The very question, “Why do Christian’s suffer”, reveals an unBiblical flaw in our thinking. The question we ought to ask is not, “Why suffering?”, but, “Why not?” Instead of praying for relief from their suffering, Peter and Paul prayed for more. First century believers embraced their crosses with joy. Today it seems we do all we can to avoid any crosses. We seemingly believe it is our right to always feel good and have every need met. We cherish every promise of God except one: “…In the world ye shall have tribulation” (John 16:33; Philippians 1:29; 2 Timothy 3:12). What is the Biblical theology of suffering?

The Bible promises that believers will suffer.

  • Our suffering is not merely “allowed” but overseen by our loving Father (Hebrews 12:6; John 15:2; 1 Peter 4:19; Psalm 119:75; Job 1-2). Job’s sufferings were not merely “allowed” but sent by God. Suffering is not something “bad” from Satan that must be endured, but a glorious honor from God in which we may rejoice. Job acknowledged this truth in Job 23:10, “When HE hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold!”
  • Our suffering is not always punishment for sin (John 9:2-3; 15:2; 2 Timothy 3:12).
  • Our suffering is always for our good and God’s glory   (Romans 8:28; 2 Corinthians 4:17)
  • Our suffering is not always eased in this life             

                -  Sometimes God heals immediately   (Acts 3:1-8)

              -   Sometimes God heals gradually   (Philippians 2:26-27)

               -   Sometimes God does not heal until we have our new body.

                  (2 Corinthians 12:7-10; 1 Timothy 5:23; 2 Timothy 4:20)

God never promised to take us out of our suffering in this life, but to take us “through.”

                Psalm 23:4 says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

God is more concerned about my character than my comfort.

  • Job 23:10 - “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”
  • James 1:2-4 - “ My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting [lacking] nothing.”
  • John 15:2 - “…every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth [prunes and cuts] it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”
  • Hebrews 12:6 - “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.  “
  • - “I know, O LORD… that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.”
  • Psalms 119:71 - “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.” (also Psalm 119:75)
  • “God’s love is not a pampering love but a perfecting love.” [Wiersbe]

Pain is a powerful tool in the hands of our loving Father.

The Bible promises many benefits of suffering.

In the hands of our Heavenly Father, suffering is a powerful tool for great good and bountiful blessings. When pain comes, know that God is at work to do something big in your life! Here are a few blessings and benefits of suffering. God sends suffering...

  • For my correction and redirection
  • For my purification from sin and weights   (John 15:2)
  • For my communication with God (Ps. 120:1; Phil. 3:10)
  • For my preparation and expansion in ministry (2 Corin. 1:4; John 15:2)   “The worst experiences of my life have been the greatest preparations for ministry.”   - Jim Binney, Sermon, 1/2012
  • For my perfection (Job 23:10; James 1:2-4; John 11:14-15)
  • For my exaltation   (James 4:9-10)  
  • For my anticipation of heaven
  • For God’s glorification (John 11:4; 9:1-3)

              - God may wish to glorify Himself through amazing healing, or...

- God may wish to glorify Himself through amazing grace.                                 (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

  It is for these reasons that Paul could say in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”