Purpose behind suffering

Job, a righteous man, suffered great pain and loss.  He struggled to understand the reasons for his suffering.  What he could not see from earth was the dialog in heaven between God and Satan as they discussed Job.  The Evil One wagered that Job’s devotion to God and his blameless behavior would quickly disappear if God’s blessings of health, wealth, and family were removed.  Although Job did not deserve suffering, God allowed Satan to test him, so that his unconditional love for God could be demonstrated.  God was glorified by this demonstration of Job’s devotion.  Our sufferings, too, can be God-glorifying opportunities, as we show the Accuser of the Brethren and the onlooking world  God’s power, as it is seen more clearly in our weakness.

Each time he said, My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”                                    2 Corinthians 12:9-10   NLT
Besides glorifying God, our suffering can also make us better people.  Like a coach who puts his athletes through grueling training to make them fit for competition, God does the same with us.  He makes us stronger, more patient, less materialistic, and more holy through our trials.

God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.”            Hebrews 12:10-11  NLT

(The word above translated discipline is used elsewhere for “child-training,” conveying an educational, preparatory, or restorative strategy.)

My suffering was good for me,
    for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees.”    
 Psalm 119:71

Lord, mold us and refine us into what You intend us to be.  Let the way we respond to the stresses that life brings us “show you off” vividly to onlookers.

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