Is suffering the will of God? Does He orchestrate suffering?
Job 2:10 – “shall we accept good from God and not accept adversity?”
Jer. 32:42 – “I brought all this calamity on this people.”
Amos 3:6 – “if a calamity occurs in a city, has not the Lord done it?”
1 Pet 3:17 – “if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing right.”
1 Pet. 4:19 – “those who suffer according to the will of God.”
Suffering as a Christian is a sign that God is powerfully at work in our lives. Longing for our final redemption, suffering for doing right, and being persecuted for our faith are all evidence that God has begun the good work of making us like Christ. Our suffering consequently becomes a great encouragement to our faith, since those who share in Christ’s sufferings know that they will also share in his resurrection (Matt. 5:11-12; Rom. 8:17; Phil. 3:10).
Why is There So Much Pain and Evil in the World? by Scott Hafemann taken from The God of Promise and the Life of Faith by Scott Hafemann, copyright 2001, Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton Illinois 60187, www.crosswaybooks.org, p.
Some believers are very surprised when they are called to suffer. They thought they would do some great thing for God, but all God permits them to do is to suffer. Just suppose you could speak with those who have gone to be with the Lord; everyone has a different story, yet everyone has a tale of suffering. One was persecuted by family and friends…another was inflicted with pain and disease, neglected by the world…another was bereaved of children…another had all these afflictions. But you will notice that though the water was deep, they all have reached the other side. Not one of them blames God for the road He led them; “Salvation” is their only cry. Are there any of you, dear children, murmuring at your lot? Do not sin against God. This is the way God leads all His redeemed ones.
As followers of Christ, we often suffer not because we are out of God’s will but because we are in it, not because we lack faith but because we have faith. We suffer not because we need to be filled with the Spirit but because we already are. Stronger faith does not mean less suffering, but more suffering means stronger faith. Far from calling our faith into question, our afflictions result in our becoming more and more like Christ Himself.
The suffering of sickness and the suffering of persecution have this in common: they are both intended by Satan for the destruction of our faith, and governed by God for the purifying of our faith… Christ sovereignly accomplishes His loving, purifying purpose, by overruling Satan’s destructive attempts. Satan is always aiming to destroy our faith; but Christ magnifies His power in weakness.
All experiences of suffering in the path of Christian obedience, whether from persecution or sickness or accident, have this in common: They all threaten our faith in the goodness of God and tempt us to leave the path of obedience. Therefore, every triumph of faith and all perseverance in obedience are testimonies to the goodness of God and the preciousness of Christ – whether the enemy is sickness, Satan, sin or sabotage. Therefore, all suffering, of every kind, that we endure in the path of our Christian calling is a suffering “with Christ” and “for Christ.” With Him in the sense that the suffering comes to us as we are walking with Him by faith, and in the sense that it is endured in the strength that He supplies through His sympathizing high-priestly ministry (Hebrews 4:15). For Him in the sense that the suffering tests and proves our allegiance to His goodness and power, and in the sense that it reveals His worth as an all-sufficient compensation and prize.
If you have come to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, having repented of your sin and come humbly to Christ, not one tiny bit of your suffering is because of the judicial punishment for your sin. It may be for your sanctification and your loving discipline, but not for punishment. Christ is the one who bore the wrath of God against sin on your behalf.
The Bible makes no apology about assigning the existence of calamity to God, yet God’s holiness is never compromised.
God does not commit evil, but He ordains that it exists. The prophet Isaiah recorded, “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things” (Isaiah 45:7). Evil exists by God’s permission and through the foreordained choice of those whom He created. Otherwise, we’d end up with a separate power that causes evil, in which case God would no longer be sovereign. However, evil is not a glitch in God’s plan but rather an integral piece of God’s plan!
Suffering and pain are never without purpose. They are never without cause. For the believer in Christ, suffering and pain never happen without eventual resolution!
My child, trust firmly in the Lord, and do not fear the judgment of men when conscience tells you that you are upright and innocent. For it is good and blessed to suffer such things, and they will not weigh heavily on the humble heart that trusts in God rather than itself. Many men say many things, and therefore little faith is to be put in them. Likewise, it is impossible to satisfy all men. Although Paul tried to please all in the Lord, and became all things to all men, yet he made little of their opinions. He labored abundantly for the edification and salvation of others, as much as lay in him and as much as he could, but he could not escape being sometimes judged and despised by others. Therefore, he committed all to God who knows all things.