I am Suffering

By Edwin Christiaan

If I think, ‘My bed will comfort me, and I will try to forget my misery with sleep,’ you shatter me with dreams. You terrify me with visions. I would rather die of strangulation than go on and on like this. I hate my life. I do not want to go on living. Oh, leave me alone for these few remaining days. Job 7:13-16 NLT

These are the words of Job, crying out bitterly to God as he was going through the greatest test of his life. Through no fault of his own, Job, a wealthy and righteous man, lost all his possessions, his beloved children, and his health. Job could not understand why God allowed him to suffer this way. (See Job chapter 1:12 and Job 2:6) To make matters worse, Job’s own friends assumed that the reason he was suffering was because of sin in his life, and with that in mind they wrongly persuaded Job to repent of his sins.

Suffering can be, but is not always, a consequence of sin. In the same way, prosperity is not always a reward for being good. Those who love God are not exempt from trouble. Although we may not be able to fully understand the pain we experience, it will ultimately lead us to rediscover God and His purpose for our lives. In the process, we must learn to recognize the attacks of Satan who wants to take advantage of us through our pain and suffering by driving a wedge between us and God, making us believe that God’s doings are not just and fair. Although God is present everywhere, at times He may seem far away. This may cause us to feel discouraged, alone, guilty, blaming ourselves, and doubt His care for us. We cannot control how Satan may attack us, but we can always choose how we will respond when it happens.

We should serve God for who He is, not for what we feel. God is never insensitive to our suffering. God is beyond our comprehension, and we cannot always know why He allows each instance of suffering to come into our lives. God is in control of the world, and only He understands why good people are allowed to suffer. This only becomes clear to us when we see God for who He is. We must courageously accept what God allows to happen in our lives, and remain firmly committed to Him. God is sufficient; we must hold on to Him, and remain faithful to Him.

Job showed the kind of trust we are to have. When everything is stripped away, we are to recognize that God is all we ever really had. We should not demand that God explains everything. God alone knew the purpose behind Job’s suffering, and yet He never explained it to Job. In spite of this, Job never gave up on God, even in the midst of suffering. God is all-wise and all-powerful. His will is perfect, yet He doesn’t always act in ways we understand. Job’s suffering did not make sense because everyone believed good people were supposed to prosper. When Job was at the point of despair, God spoke to him, showing him His great power and wisdom, turning all Job’s circumstances for the good. Job was consoled and comforted. God used the suffering He allowed in Job’s life to purify his faith!

Job openly and honestly admitted to have foolishly questioned God because he wasn’t able to understand why God allowed him to suffer so greatly.

Then Job replied to the LORD:
“I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You ask, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I. And I was talking about things I did not understand, things far too wonderful for me. “You said, ‘Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’ “I had heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.” Job 42:1-6 NLT

When Job prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes. In fact, the LORD gave him twice as much as before! Then all his brothers, sisters, and former friends came and feasted with him in his home. And they consoled him and comforted him because of all the trials the LORD had brought against him. And each of them brought him a gift of money and a gold ring. Job 42:10-11 NLT

So the LORD blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning. Job 42:12 NLT

In the New Testament of the Bible, Job is mentioned as an example of one of the many faithful prophets who have suffered and been persecuted.

For examples of patience in suffering, dear brothers and sisters, look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. Job is an example of a man who endured patiently. From his experience we see how the Lord’s plan finally ended in good, for He is full of tenderness and mercy. James 5:10-11 NLT

The apostle Peter learned about suffering from his master, Jesus Christ. He knew that Jesus’ suffering was part of God’s plan to save us. He also knew that all who follow Jesus must be prepared to suffer. When we follow Christ’s example who never sinned, our goal should be to face suffering as He did with patience, calmness, and confidence that God is in control of our future.

This suffering is all part of what God has called you to. Christ, who suffered for you, is your example. Follow in His steps. He never sinned, and He never deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when He was insulted. When He suffered, He did not threaten to get even. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. He personally carried away our sins in His own body on the cross so we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. You have been healed by His wounds! Once you were wandering like lost sheep. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls. 1. Peter 2:21-25 NLT

In Conclusion
We may suffer for many reasons. Some suffering is a direct result of our own sin, some happens because of our foolishness, some is the result of living in a fallen world, and some suffering is specifically allowed by God as it happened to Job.

If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people’s affairs. 1. Peter 4:15 NLT

Many people think that believing in God protects them from trouble or suffering, so when calamity comes they question God’s goodness and justice. But the message of Job is that you should not give up on God because He allows you to have bad experiences. Faith in God does not guarantee personal prosperity, just as lack of faith doesn’t automatically bring trouble. If this were so, people would believe in God simply to get rich. God is capable of rescuing us from suffering, but He may also – like He did to Job – allow suffering to come for reasons we cannot understand. If we always knew why we were suffering, our faith would have no room to grow.

And finally, I want to emphasize again that we must keep in mind that it is Satan’s strategy to get us to doubt God when we are going through suffering times. Satan attacks us with feelings of loneliness, weakness, helplessness, and being rejected and cut off from other believers. He wants you to only be focused on your troubles so that you altogether forget to be careful and watchful of his schemes. During times of suffering, it is good to seek other Christians for support. Be humble, keep your eyes on Jesus Christ, and take a firm stand against the Devil so he will flee from you!

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7 NLT

Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour. Take a firm stand against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. In his kindness God called you to his eternal glory by means of Jesus Christ. After you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation. All power is His forever and ever. Amen. 1. Peter 5:8-11 NLT

Copyright©2011 Edwin & Sophia Christiaan