Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Why Do We Suffer?

(This was originally written November 11, 2011)

A friend was telling me about her life in a
matter-of-fact way, knowing I would pray.
Suffering from a very bad back, she was standing the whole time we talked,
while I slouched in a chair, scootching my feet under me to get really comfie.

She has three friends going through cancer.

One was at the end of her life, dying a slow painful death.

"Why?" she asked. 
She wasn't doubting the Lord, she wasn't angry,
she was just wondering if I knew any more about the mysteries of suffering.

After all, I have been through a little in my life.

I told her we weren't going through anything the Lord hadn't already gone through,
He has walked before us. 
 He prepared the path.

I told her Isaiah 55 says his ways and thoughts are higher than our thoughts
 and we don't see His big picture,
the hundreds of souls He is speaking through the suffering of one of His beloved children.

I told her that if His life was one of suffering, why shouldn't ours be?

I told her the world was Satan's domain, and we were subject to his sufferings
as the Lord allowed, but the evil one was literally trying to make life on earth Hell,
like his habitat-to-be.

I even told her that Christians get the American dream mixed up with the truth of the Christian life.
We expect to grow up, get married, have kids and live happily ever after.
We don't ever plan suffering.
Instead, we're surprised when it becomes a part of our adult lives,
insteading of expecting it because the Bible speaks of suffering.

I gave her all the ammo I had.
It was good ammo.  It was truthful ammo. It was encouraging ammo.

 But, still I wept.
I know the answers, but I also have to daily live them.
Suffering may be a necessary part of Christianity,
but it is still so hard.

Even the next morning I wept as I thought about the reality of our faith.

I have to be OK with the fact that my God and Father took a friend home,
after years of suffering cancer,
leaving behind two beautiful little girls
who won't have very many memories of their mommy.

Actually, I have to be more than just OK.
I have to praise, worship, adore and believe suffering is right,  because He is right.
I have to believe suffering is perfect, because His ways are perfect.
I have to believe suffering is the truth, because He is the Truth.

I have to believe, or it won't be well with my soul.

Life is hard.
Suffering is so hard.

As I thought more about this, I realized how unprepared we believers are for suffering.
It's like we put our fingers in our ears when we read all those verses about suffering.
All the help and understanding we need is in His Word.

Why do we suffer?
Suffering proves Jesus is the only way.

People of other faiths don't sing hymns while dying on a burning stake.

They don't die forgiving and loving their persecutors.

They don't lose their bodies to the ravages of cancer,
 knowing they're leaving behind small children and beloved spouses,
 and die praising God.

Only Christians can do this.

When Christians are pressed, pulled, beset from all sides and the aroma of Jesus Christ is spread abroad to the nations in a way followers of false gods can never imagine, dream or experience.

Suffering is an important aspect of the Christian life,
because it is the greatest thing our Savior did for us.
He suffered for our sins.
 He suffered rejection.
He suffered loss of earthly gain.
He was rejected by his family, the government, and the religion of His Father.

Suffering is our way to proclaim that Jesus is real.
He is alive.
He is the Savior.

We suffer for Him,
because He suffered for us.


  1. Does it help to know He will recompense us of all our sorrows?

    If I watch my child suffer through a painful surgery, I do so weeping - but I allow it knowing it will be better in the end.

    Doesn't He do the same?
    Is there really no sorrow like His sorrow?
    But isn't He more than able to make up to us all that our sorrows took away from us?
    Doesn't He promise to do so?

    3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
    5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
    6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
    7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
    8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

  2. Great post! We are in Idaho for a bit and it has been great to spend time with family. It has been very hard to see the effects of Alzheimer's and how it is changing everybody's life. I know that God wins in the end, but sometimes it is painful here in between.

  3. Thank you for sharing, Mindy. Life just plain hurts sometimes. Still praying for you...

  4. It is so difficult to see the good in suffering. I have wrestled with that thought all day after talking with my youngest son today. He is suffering and has turned his back on his faith. It breaks my heart. I pray he will turn to God once again. . .I suppose we all suffer, just in different ways and about different things. You have great understanding and amazing faith. I know life is very hard for you these days. I'm so sorry.

  5. You are so right about Christians being unprepared for suffering. Well said...all of it.

  6. You say what I don't know how to say. I can't articulate any of the depth that is deep inside me onto paper (computer screen, sorry) like you can. Life has been hard and just when I think it will be easier, it isn't. This week is hard. Just hard. So, your post spoke to me just when I needed it. Thanks Mindy.

  7. Noah read this at prayer meeting last night. It was very edifying. Afterward Sharon shared the story of the writer of the hymn God Leads His Dear Children along, an amazing story of faith and faithfulness in suffering.

  8. Thank you for this beautiful affirmation of the foundations of our faith. I am sending the link to Christians across the country who are asking these very same questions.

  9. Can you email me at I have to talk to you!


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