Are you amid suffering that leaves you questioning God’s purpose for the pain? Have you walked through a dark season, only to reach the other side still scratching your head asking God “why?”
Each of us face daily struggles that impact our faith and endurance. We’ve all experienced some tragedy that impacted our life, causing us to never be the same. Maybe you’ve been trudging through a difficulty that just won’t seem to let up, and it leaves you questioning how God is using this suffering.
Whether you’ve reached the other side of the darkness, or you’re still amid the struggle, there are many instances where you cannot see the purpose for the pain you’ve faced. You don’t see the miracle. You cannot see the reasoning.
There have been many dark days that I’ve walked through, only to still feel broken, shattered and uncertain of how God was using it for something good. I’ve pleaded with God for some sign of hope. An answer to my prayer for the reason He brought me to this place. An understanding for why He answered my prayers with “no” instead of my preferred “yes.” Why He allowed the pain to endure for so long when I felt like I was broken beyond repair.
We may not understand why God allows pain into our lives or how it is being used for “good,” but I do know that when things don’t make an ounce of sense to us, God’s got it under control. God’s “good” looks different than ours. What we view as painful, God sees as beneficial.
When your struggle doesn’t make an ounce of sense, I hope you can find rest in these four reminders:
Your suffering is beyond your understanding
When terrible things occur, we desire answers. We crave reasoning for the pain we’ve faced. Even when God provides us with some insight, it often leads to more questions that we desire to be answered. Why did this occur? Why would God allow this? How could this be used for good?
We may possess wisdom, knowledgeable and intellect, but there are just some things that we will not understand while on this earth. We can study the Bible for a lifetime, but some things we’ll only comprehend when we reach heaven. Our finite minds cannot make sense of the eternal purpose God is performing in our lives.
Just as children may not understand the discipline of their parents when they are young, once they grow and reach adulthood they have a better understanding of their parents reasoning. We may not be able to discern God’s purpose for our pain, but that is where we can see where our faith needs to grow. When we cannot understand what God is doing, we need to trust in Him and know that He is using it for something purposeful.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Your suffering is intentional
Yes, this can seem quite disturbing that God allows intentional suffering into our lives. He allows struggles to come our way, but He does this not to harm us, but to help us grow.
Everything we face is intricately planned out and purposefully selected for us to encounter. Our suffering isn’t accidental, but intentional. When we face hardships, heartbreaks and pain, it can seem like God is okay with the pain we face. If He allows it, He must not mind our broken hearts, right? Wrong. God saw His Son rejected by those He created. God endured the pain of seeing His Son persecuted and brutally beaten by those He came to save. God did not find delight in this, but knew it was a necessary event that needed to occur for His love to be displayed.
When we encounter difficulty, it’s not bringing God delight in seeing us suffer, but He knows that it’s allowing us to grow and mature our faith. He can see beyond the temporary pain, and sees the end result, the bigger picture and the master plan.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Your suffering is equipping you
We may perceive our suffering to be breaking us apart, causing us to be shattered and unusable by God. As we read in Romans 5, suffering allows the opportunity for us to grow in many ways. It helps teach us perseverance, grow our character and gives us an eternal hope (you can read more about hope here).
We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Suffering also equips us by strengthening us. Yes, our struggles can often feel like they’re breaking us apart, but rather it’s God softening our heart and allowing us to depend on Him for strength when we feel weak. We may not feel established or complete here on this earth, but one day when we reach heaven we will see how the shattered pieces of our life were being molded into a beautiful creation shaped by God’s hands, and not by ours.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Your suffering is a testimony
Lastly, our struggles can provide us with the opportunity to be a light for God to those around us. We may not perceive those who are looking at our life and witnessing our faithfulness to God amidst suffering. People observe your life every day and take note of how you react. When you are in the midst of suffering, others are watching.
The struggles you face also are opportunities for you to share God with others and tell of His work in your life. Struggles grant you the blessing of relating to others who are undergoing similar situations or help you understand someone else’s predicament. When someone else has experienced a hardship, it allows connection and trust to be built. The suffering we face may seem difficult, but it is allowing us to minister to others like we never could have if we had a perfect life, free of strife.