Some of life’s biggest questions come up when we start talking about suffering. Questions like: Why do we suffer and what is the purpose of it? Where is God when I’m suffering? And is God good?
So much of my story and testimony of Jesus’ work in my life has come from wrestling with these questions. Today I want to start a little blog series that wrestles with some of these questions. I will not pretend to have all of the answers, but I would love to share some of the things I’ve learned along the way. Let’s start with the sovereignty of God…
God is sovereign over all things. He is even sovereign over suffering.
What I mean by sovereign is that God is the one who exercises supreme authority and power. He is above all others in character, importance, and excellence. He is the one who “works all things according to the counsel of his will.” (Eph 1:11 ESV)
Many people have mistakenly divorced God from suffering. But if we ignore God’s sovereignty and how it plays into our suffering, we will miss being rooted and grounded in the fact that God is with us in our suffering. Scripture clearly shows that God is with us even on the days when our hearts swell with emotions and pain.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5 says,
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”
God is sovereign over suffering, but that doesn’t mean that suffering isn’t real.
The Bible says that we suffer. It says that we suffer in every way. It says we are perplexed. It says we are persecuted. It says we are struck down….But…. Read 2 Corinthians 4:7
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed;
perplexed, but not driven to despair;
persecuted, but not forsaken;
struck down, but not destroyed;
always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.
Our suffering is real. It can be puzzling. It can be physical or even emotional, yet we are not crushed. We are not meant to be destroyed by it. There is a purpose. We are meant to have the life of Jesus manifested in our bodies.
Be encouraged that “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (2Co 4:17 ESV)
God is sovereign over suffering, but that doesn’t excuse evildoers.
God’s perfect love is both kind and severe. In the beautiful story of redemption, Jesus was “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” He was crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. And God raised him up. (Act 2:23-24 ESV). This was the kindness of God making a way for people to be set free from sin.
God made a way for salvation. It is only by His kindness that any of us are set free. However if all we knew of God is His gracious side, we would be left with a flat- one-dimensional view. Jim Andrews in his book Polishing God’s Monuments says that, “The love of God, due to human wickedness, necessarily also has “severe” edges in the form of judgment and discipline (105).
What he is saying is that God will deal with sin because it is impossible for God to do an injustice. Andrews continues by saying, “Divine justice is a crucial component of divine love. A God of love does not forgive, ignore, wink at, or pass over evil.” (Andrews 105). If God overlooked sin that would be an injustice. God cannot and will not let the guilty go unpunished. If we are suffering because of someone’s wrongdoing, we can heed Romans call to “note then the kindness and the severity of God” (11:22 ESV).
So if you are suffering, whether it be big or small, physical or emotional, know that God is sovereign.
He sees you.
Suffering is real.
God knows your situation.
He sees the evil-doer and will act justly.
Know His kindness toward you. He died for your salvation. He is acquainted with suffering. Turn to Him. Cry out to Him. And feel the embrace of His comfort.
Today we addressed the sovereignty of God and suffering. Stay tuned as we wrestle with the questions 1) Is God good? 2) What is the purpose of suffering?