When we found out that my dad had cancer, my brother and I worked together to set up his care. We were all devastated and scared but did our best to stay positive through the decisions. When my brother became sick five months later, I not only became my dad’s only caretaker, but I became the caretaker for my brother, also.
For the next six months, my life became busy with hospitals and nursing homes. One time, I spent all day in one hospital with dad for surgery and was home no more than an hour when called to another hospital for my brother.
I became angry with God and asked, ”Where are you? Why is this happening?”
Where is God when we suffer?
Have you ever been at this point of despair? We might cry out to God and plea for him to protect us from the pain. But believing that Christians never suffer is a lie.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart. I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, ESV).
Thinking that our life should be easy or have a hedge put around us just because we follow Jesus can be why people fall away from God when bad things happen. The truth is, Christians do suffer, and God tells us we will. God’s purpose is fulfilled through our sufferings, even if we do not understand the reason for them.
What does the Bible say about suffering?
Before the Apostle Paul’s conversion into Christianity, he lived a sinful life persecuting and even killing followers of Jesus. After his conversion, it became his mission to tell others how to live for Jesus. He wrote many letters to the churches, which today make up most of the new testament.
As a follower of Jesus, Paul did his share of suffering. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, Paul talks about all the bad things happening to him. Paul suffered imprisonment and beatings that almost killed him; beaten with rods three times, stoned once. He was shipwrecked three different times, and he was adrift at sea for a day.
He talks about all the dangers he lived through,
“… in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many sleepless nights…” (v 26-27a, ESV).
Wow, Paul, is that all? And I complained to God because I had to go to the hospital twice in one day?
What fascinates me most about Paul is his attitude through all of this. Instead of persevering through all of this suffering, he could have run the other way. Instead, Paul teaches us to rejoice.
“Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2, ESV).
Paul trusted God and continued with his mission of telling the world about Jesus. I am so glad he did. His letters have been a comfort for me as I learn to trust God in suffering.
So, we are not to think that God will keep us safe from the trials of the world. Instead, we can rejoice in sufferings, trusting Him to fulfill His purpose through these trials while we continue to walk according to the principles of his word.
Suffering will happen. May we be like Paul and rejoice in the glory of God!