I imagine most of us, if not all of us, would do our best to avoid suffering. It is an experience we do not find pleasant. It is an experience we probably would not choose to hear on the day we profess our faith. After all, this is a day of joy and celebration. Many of us would still be in our teens at that stage of life and, if you are like me, quickly push aside those first words of 1 Peter 5:10, 11:

After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

They hardly seem relevant, especially to us who have grown up with so many privileges.  This tends to make us believe that we are entitled to a life free of suffering, and we are going to do everything we can to make this happen.

In addition,  we often start off with a superficial knowledge of the Bible: “God blesses us if we love Him, serve Him and obey Him and curses us if we don’t”. We have Deuteronomy 28 to prove it. We also have the books of Judges, Kings and Chronicles, which reinforce this thought. So all we need to do is love the Lord, serve Him and obey Him, and life should be a bed of roses. I love the Lord. I have responded to His promise to me of being His child. I want to obey Him.

There are also other voices speaking to us: “You can make life happen; you can become whatever you choose; just make the right choices; you can have whatever you set your heart on”. You get the impression you can just about make heaven on earth.


So we start off as a young adult. Reality soon sets in for most of us. We don’t get the grades we desire. The jobs we so diligently applied for slip through our fingers. We lose a much-needed job. Money is so tight, even with an income, it is impossible to make ends meet. How do we make good friends? Life without friends seems bleak. We cannot find a life partner. We would love to have children. We are married and have children and grieve our perceived loss of freedom. Our children are often sick. We lose a child. A close friend dies. Relationships become difficult. We mourn the loss of our dreams as we see them go up in smoke. A son or daughter turns his/her back to the Lord. Our bodies break down. A husband dies. The list goes on and on, full of small everyday happenings and huge bombshells. We start to realise why our marriage solemnization form calls this life a vale of tears.

Turning to God

Our disappointments, our losses, our failures and our frustrations cause pain within us. They are a source of suffering. We need not deny our pain and the many reasons why we are hurting. In fact, it may start us on the road to healing when we voice all that we miss and have lost.  We may be able to voice it within the family circle, among a few close friends, or within a support group. Above all, we may direct our grief to our heavenly Father. Many a psalm and a prayer have been born from the womb of suffering. We have a High Priest who weeps with us. “Let us, therefore, come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).


In turning to God I am taking the step of acknowledging that there is purpose to our suffering. I realise that my loving Father is in control. He is almighty, so He could have directed my path in another way. I know it is not because He hates me, because He sent His infinitely beloved Son to die for undeserving me. I can only come to the conclusion that He only has good in mind for me (Rom.8:28). And so I pray, “Lord, this that you are sending my way does not feel good. My feelings tell me how I am hit, but they do not tell me the big picture.  It hurts, but I believe you. I trust you. Do not let Satan sway me. He so knows how to attack me when I am down”. I can suffer with hope.

I read my Bible. I find in Psalm 73 that even in Old Testament times the faithful often suffered and the wicked seemed to have it all. I learn that the promised blessing points more to a spiritual reality and eternity than a perfect physical one right now. I read texts such as Romans 5: 1-5, 2 Corinthians 14: 17 and James 2-4 and discover that difficulties are a tool that God uses to make us more beautiful on the pathway to perfection.


Yes, suffering has purpose. I have gleaned some reasons from two authors which I will briefly summarise. Suffering can :

  1. lead to a greater dependence on God as many believers testify
  2. have the potential for growth, greater understanding and new insights
  3. help us discover the depths of God’s comfort
  4. prepare us for eternal joy (2 Cor.4:17)
  5. help me see that God is my only solid foundation – not people, or health or money or circumstances
  6. create in me greater empathy for others

Parents can already start showing children in the little things of life that they’re okay with loss, pain and imperfection. We soothe our children when they hurt themselves, but we do not overreact as if something terrible has happened. We are disappointed when we forget the cake we have put into the oven, but we are not devastated. Yes, we accept that we are responsible, but we also accept that perfection is not in the here and now. When I lose my glasses I can get angry, frustrated and cranky or I can make a fun game out of it with the finder rewarded in the centre of a family hug! Children learn so much from our reactions.

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Cor.4: 17,18)

For some further reading:

  1. An article by Randy Alcorn dated October 9, 2018, from the desiringGod website.
  2. Recovering From LOSSES in Life by H.N. Wright

This article was submitted by the Women’s League.

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