Is There a Purpose for Suffering?

“We had the sentence of death in ourselves, so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead.”

— 2 Corinthians 1:9

“Sweet are the uses of adversity.” At least so said the bard from Stratfordon- Avon. I am afraid, however, if actually put to the test of a vote, there would be an almost unanimous disagreement with Mr. Shakespeare on that point. “Bitter” is the word. Crushing, wracking, wrenching, discouraging, heartbreaking, and faith-shattering are the uses of adversity. This, I am sure, would be the attitude of most people.

Several years ago I received a call from a woman who was an atheist. Several times in the midst of her conversation she referred to one tragedy or another, always to be followed by the comment: And where was God then?

I suppose there is nothing that causes more people to stumble in the matter of faith than the problem of suffering, because none of us is exempt in this fallen world. We all face it at one time or another in our lives.

But God uses troubles in our lives to clear away the dross. He lets us undergo suffering that we might be of comfort for those undergoing similar problems. Most important is that we will never be like Jesus without the crucible of Jesus, the most desirable person who ever lived, who was portrayed as a “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). If we would be like Jesus, we will have to pass through the valley of the shadow.

Dear Lord, give me strength for today to not lose hope in You whenever I suffer. Help me to realize that You are purifying me. Also, help me to weep with those who weep and to be a comfort to those around me who are suffering…