“Why is this happening to me?” “What did I do to deserve this?” These are common questions. Even the disciples upon sawing the blind man, wanted to know the reason he was blind. Was it because of the parents’ sin or was it his sin? Jesus answered that it was neither. There was another purpose for the man’s suffering.
“The problem of reconciling human suffering with the existence of a God who loves, is only insoluble so long as we attach a trivial meaning to the word ‘love’, and look on things as if man were the center of them.”, wrote C. S. Lewis in “The Problem of Pain.” The questions we ask reveal the truth of this statement. “Why is this happening to ‘me’?” “What did ‘I’ do to deserve this?” To begin understanding the reason for pain and suffering, we must look beyond ourselves. There are many reasons for suffering. Here are a few.
1. Yes, we do suffer because of our sin. This is common to us and is why we naturally start questioning here. When we steal something and get caught, we suffer the consequences of our actions. We also suffer as a result of others’ sin. Someone may lie about us or cheat us in a business transaction. A drunk driver could drive into your lane and you suffer the pain and even the loss of life as a result. We do suffer because of sin. Jesus did too when He took our sin upon Himself. Sin hurts and destroys but Jesus brings the forgiveness of sin. Our sin and others’ sin should bring us to the Savior.
2. Another purpose God shows us for suffering is that we might have patience. The trying of our faith teaches patience and to trust the Lord. One purpose of pain could be to focus us on the Lord. We will learn more about Him and our relationship with Him as we go through trials. It will deepen our dependence. Reacting rightly to trials helps us experience a deeper intimacy with the Lord. It will strengthen our faith.
3. God gives comfort because He is the God of all comfort. Another reason we may be going through suffering is that we might experience the comfort that comes from God. Afterward we will be able to comfort others with the comfort God gives us. Knowing God’s comfort enables us to show more sympathy for others as they suffer. We can be a real encouragement to others.
4. Another purpose is that God may be glorified. Jesus answered the disciples about the blind man. He said that the man was born blind so God could be glorified. Sometimes our suffering is simply to bring glory to God. Our reaction and even how God works though it should glorify Him. It is hard to imagine this as being the only purpose but yes, it could be.
There are many reasons for suffering beyond those listed here. Whatever the reason, we must look to the Lord for His enabling grace and comfort. There is purpose. There is a reason. Keep going and trust the Lord. He is working in and through the trials of our lives. We will find the Lord to be our strength and refuge. May He be glorified even in our pain.