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Reasons for Human Suffering?

1. We may bring suffering upon ourselves. Dissipation and lack of discipline bring unhappy consequences. Long-term abuse of our bodies may bring on sickness. Wrong choices come back to haunt us. You may ask the caller: “Do you think this is happening to you because of your own bad judgment or intemperate actions? What can you do to alleviate your suffering?”

2. Sometimes God is taking corrective action because of sin and disobedience. God will correct and discipline His own. Through chastening He proves that He loves us and that we are truly His own (Hebrews 12:5-11).

3. God may permit suffering so we learn to respond to problems in a biblical way. Scripture tells us that Jesus “learned obedience from what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8, NIV). Our goal should be not merely relief from suffering but rather learning to please God by being responsive and obedient to Him and to His Word (see Romans 12:1, 2).

4. Sometimes God permits us to suffer to teach us that pain is a part of life. Nowhere does the Bible say that the Christian will not suffer adversity! Paul points out in Philippians 1:29, KJV, that it is “given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.” Adversity can be a gift from God.

Christ did not evade the Cross to escape suffering. Hebrews 12:2 says he “endured the cross, despising the shame.” Why? “For the joy that was set before him.” He knew that the final word was not crucifixion (suffering); it was resurrection (victory).

We may suffer briefly, or all our lives. But let us not give up hope or engage in self-pity or bitterness. The end-result is what we all look forward to. Being with the Lord in heaven will put all things into perspective!

5. God may permit suffering for our well-being. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, NIV). We must accept this by faith and pray that God’s highest good will come as a result of our suffering. Only through adversity are some of the deeper lessons of life learned. Trust God to work out His own will and purpose in us so that we might be more Christlike (see Romans 8:29).

There is no redemptive merit in our suffering as there was in that of Jesus, but if we are faithful under adversity we may be able to share in “the fellowship of his sufferings” (Philippians 3:10, KJV).

6. Sometimes God permits suffering to speak through our life and testimony to comfort others. Jesus said that the sufferings of the blind man in John 9 were so “that the work of God might be displayed in his life” (NIV).

God might work in your life through suffering to inspire others by your example in adversity. Those who endure adversity can sympathize and identify more effectively with others in their sufferings. We comfort others in the way we are comforted. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3, 4, (NIV).

The Billy Graham Christian Worker’s Handbook, (Minneapolis: World Wide Publ., 1984), pp. 223-225

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