I am trying to weave together several studies I have done on the issues of suffering, particularly as I have studied through the Gospel of John chapter 11.
Here is a “table of contents” if you want to check out the other articles first before reading this one:
When you read through, at least Part 3, I think there are a couple of implications of these truths that we ought to draw out a little bit.
We have to Change our Thinking
Often non-Christians and even some immature Christians will at least pronounce their frustration with suffering and God’s seemingly lack of care. They will blame God for not doing something about the suffering, or they will begin to think wrongly about God as they try to justify all of these thoughts in their minds.
- Some will think perhaps God is not strong enough to do something about suffering
- Some will think perhaps God is not all-seeing enough to know that suffering is coming
- Some will think perhaps God is not good and just won’t do something about suffering.
But all three of these thoughts are not proper for Christians to think. God is powerful, God is all knowing, and God is good. So you cannot shift the blame of suffering to some lack in God. God designs suffering for a purpose, and so we ought to change the way we think about suffering and God. He is strong, omniscient, and good.
We have to Center our thinking
We have to center our thinking on the gospel.
In Part 3 we concluded with this thought:
Jesus designs our suffering for us so that we and those around us might center our lives on the gospel, so that HE might be glorified.
So how does this work? What exactly does this mean? What do I need to do? Two things.
Suffering displays the gospel to others.
When we are suffering, and we lean in and rest on Christ or our solace and comfort in suffering, then God uses suffering to display the gospel to those around us.
Jack suffered from severe pain in his cancer, but no nurse made it off shift without hearing the gospel from this pain drenched man. In his suffering, he trusted himself to Christ, knowing there was a purpose, and he used every opportunity he could to point to Christ.
Suffering drives us to the gospel.
Often for Christians, suffering exposes sins that were lying dormant under the surface. When suffering comes we find ourselves surprised by our response, our wickedness, and our anger. So the suffering reminds us of our sin.
But we can come running to him in the middle of our suffering, and we can know that he has paid for our sinful response. Because the point of suffering is to drive us to the gospel.