Updated: Feb 12, 2022
Doesn't God care that I'm suffering?
I heard Paul David Tripp once say,
"We live in a fallen world, and it often falls on us."
Christians can take this deep thought and turn it around, quickly spouting, "We suffer because we live in a fallen world" as we reference Genesis 3. But it's excruciating to feel our world "fall" on us.
Nearly twelve years ago, my husband and I visited our current church for the first time . . . to get marriage counseling. We had just lost everything we owned in a failed business venture. Two years earlier my oldest sister had been in a horrible car accident which left her with a severe TBI, permanently disabled (considered high care). I traveled back and forth from my state to her state in order to help her husband with her care. They had no children together. Extended family crises seemed to be mounting all around us day after day, month after month for several years.
To top it all off, things were hard spiritually. We had moved back to Kentucky to help some friends with a church plant, but it was proving not to be the right fit for us (although we loved our brothers and sisters in Christ there so so much). It was like a one-two punch because we had sunk our savings into our business so that my husband could work bi-vocationally for the church. We ended up losing our business, our church family, and our way.
When we landed at our new church to receive counseling, we were overwhelmed with the feeling that we were "going down for the count" if we didn't get help. The very first Sunday we attended, our pastor was preaching a sermon series titled "Shattered" based on the life and suffering of Job. It was a sermon about God's sovereignty over our suffering, indeed His role in it. You can find the series here. (To this day, it is one of my favorites.)
God used His powerful Word, this sermon series, and an incredible book to teach us about His glorious attribute of sovereignty that we might have a proper framework for our suffering.
In the book, Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts, author Jerry Bridges shares, “God in His love always wills what is best for us. In His wisdom, He always knows what is best, and in His sovereignty, He has the power to bring it about.”
(This book is a gritty gospel life recommended read. You can support your favorite AmazonSmile charity by purchasing it here.)
As some know, I have another personal story of deep, deep suffering. The story of losing my infant daughter at the hand of my boyfriend who sexually assaulted and murdered her. But when this second season of suffering hit my life, I was absolutely baffled at God. I questioned His goodness: "God, I know I was living in sexual immorality the last time you allowed suffering into my life. (I wrongly assumed that my sin was the only purpose for my suffering.) But God, this time we are trying to live for you and do everything according to your will. We are living as 'good' Christians. Why are you doing this to us???"
chosen that season of suffering for my life (or any suffering for that matter). Yet, God allowed my world to "fall" on me to press me into His arms, seeking His face and His heart in a way I hadn't before. The end result of all my suffering (every time) has been that I come to know God in a way I would not have otherwise.
His grace, mercy, love, goodness, faithfulness has become infinitely richer to me and my faith has grown exponentially, all because of suffering!
"My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees." Psalm 119:71 (NLT)
time to respond . . .
Pause here and ask God to help you examine these gritty truths in light of the gospel and how to apply it to your life. Feel free to grab a journal and write out your answers to the prompts below.
think about the gritty (aka messy)
What questions have I asked God about my suffering?
Why has God allowed my suffering?
think about the gospel
What does Isaiah 53 say about Jesus' suffering for my sin?
How does this "good news" (aka gospel) impact my thoughts about suffering?
How has Jesus helped me in my suffering?
think about your life
What have I learned about God because of my suffering? (Who He is . . .where I struggle in my walk with Him.)
One thing God uses our suffering for is to build compassion for others who are suffering.
Who does God want you to pray for right now who has suffered as you have?
close in prayer
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see the good that He has brought out of allowing gritty suffering into your life. Ask Him to help you remember all the ways that your Savior suffered in order to please the Father, fulfilling His plan of redemption. Also, ask Him to help you see that Jesus willingly suffered so that He could identify with your suffering.