What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I ask you, “how are you suffering right now?” None of us likes to suffer, yet everyone will at one point or another. It is one of the most avoided parts of life, yet it is inevitable. It tests our faith like nothing else, yet every person faces it. I have, you have, Jesus did, and the scriptures promise that we will.
In fact, the scriptures also promised that Jesus would. Isa. 53 is known as the chapter of the Suffering Servant and is a direct description of Jesus’ suffering. I used to ask how the Jews missed this obvious prophecy of suffering, until I began to ask which prophecies of Jesus’ second return I am missing.
God does not cause our suffering. Rather, when we sin and walk away from God He allows it. And as we walk away from Him, consciously or not, it leads to our own suffering. When we ask, as most do at one point or another, why God allows suffering (when what we really mean is, “why does God cause my suffering?”), we don’t have to look any further than our own choices. God doesn’t allow our suffering – He allows us to sin and reap the consequences of of that sin, which are suffering.
And as we age, we begin to realize that it is in suffering, and maybe ONLY in suffering, that we truly grow as people. We never grow in the midst of comfort, and seldom in the midst of blessing. But when we suffer, the real self is revealed, and we cry out to God, either in fear, pain, or anger.
Does God cause our suffering? No. But He can use it to grow us into the people He has created us to be.