Why Does God Allow Suffering?
It is human nature to want to escape or run from suffering, but doing this doesn't help us grow, and sometimes we learn too late that what we escaped to is worse than what we escaped from. Unfortunately, we rarely change or grow unless we are hurting sufficiently. This is why James wrote in the Bible, "Consider it pure joy, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."2
Third. We need to face the causes. If there is one thing in life that I have learned, it is this: the problem is never the problem!
That is, what we blame our problem on is rarely the true cause. Often that's the symptom. For instance, my criticism of someone else may be caused more by my jealousy than by what that person did. My hurt feelings or anger at another person may be a reflection of my insecurity or unresolved hostility. I may unconsciously be looking for a peg to hand my anger on; that is, an excuse to blame somebody else for my unresolved problem.
Only as we become truly honest with ourselves and face the actual causes of our difficulties can we begin to resolve them. Jesus Christ expressed a universal principle when he said, "You will know the truth and the truth will set you free."3
The pain passes, but the
beauty remains – forever.
Fourth. To turn our crises into opportunities, we need to ask the question, "What might God be trying to say to me through my adverse circumstances?"
Remember, because he was in prison John Bunyan wrote his literary masterpiece, Pilgrim's Progress, and through rising above her severe handicaps Helen Keller became a great inspiration to millions.
And so it is with each of us. No matter what happens to us, God wants to use our suffering to strengthen us, to mature us, and to make us better persons.
If you are going through a time of sickness, sorrow, depression, financial setback, a broken relationship, or feel you have failed in some way, can you accept that God wants to use your suffering to help you grow and become closer to him? Can you ask him to help you see what you might be contributing to your situation, for the courage to do your part in resolving it, and through it help you to grow?
After a long winter, spring eventually comes and with it new leaves appear on the trees in all their refreshing beauty. In the summer they thrive. In the fall they die. But in dying their beauty is greater than in the spring. But the tree doesn't die. The falling leaves just make further growth possible. And that's the cycle of life—struggle, pain, beauty, growth.
Apparently, in his later years, Renoir, the famous French painter, suffered badly from arthritis. On one occasion his close friend, Matisse, questioned him, "My friend, why do you keep on painting when you are in so much pain?" To which Renoir thoughtfully replied, "The pain passes, but the beauty remains!"
For all who trust their life to God and ask him to use their struggles to help them grow, their pain, too, will pass, but their beauty will remain—forever. "Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall."
Be sure to invest your pain. Don't waste it. Invest it wisely in your own growth and in the growth of others.
1. Romans 5:3-4, (NIV). 2. James 1:2-4, (TLB). 3. John 8:32, (NIV). 4. Psalm 55:22, (NIV).
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