Why Must I Suffer?

Suffering is a part of our lives. Most people at one time or another experience physical illness. Hunger is frequently endured by a large percent of the world’s population. Poverty is widespread. Still others suffer at the hands of people, either in difficult marriages, or with abusive parents, or oppressive masters. As a result of greed and corruption, the political climate in some countries produces much bloodshed and war. Those with deep spiritual convictions have to suffer persecution because of their obedience to their beliefs. Millions of people around the world suffer daily. Why? What is the reason?

Suffering came into this world in the beginning because of sin. It is a continual reminder of man’s sinful condition (Genesis 3:16-19; Romans 5:12). Pain, trouble, and sorrow became an everyday part of man’s existence, because of his disobedience. Since sin is in this world, suffering is a part of life. We cannot, in this earthly life, expect to see the complete eradication of disease or the end of suffering. We are all subject to it regardless of status or nationality.

Many people suffer unnecessarily because they abuse their bodies, or do not take proper care of them. If we indulge in smoking, drinking, taking drugs, and intemperate living, we are making excessive demands on our bodies. Consequently, our bodies, and even our minds, may break down under these stresses. It is sin to abuse our bodies (1 Corinthians 3:16-17, 6:18-20).

There is much suffering, however, that comes upon the human race over which we have no control, and it comes unbidden to the rich and poor alike. No one, no matter how good a person he is, can be assured that he will be exempted. Job, the great example of suffering, was commended of God as a perfect and upright man. Consider the misery he suffered, losing his health, wealth, and family, and even his wife turned against him! God was glorified through his suffering, and He would like to be through yours. Read Job, chapter 1.

A person is not necessarily sick, blind, maimed, deaf, deformed, barren, etc., because he or his parents have sinned. At one time the disciples asked Jesus after meeting a blind man: “Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? (John 9:2). Jesus replied, “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him” (v.3). Later, Jesus healed the man. In some cases the barren woman suffers unjustly. She is despised and rejected because of superstitions and cultural stigma. Her condition does not indicate a curse from God, and she need not despair. In this case, as well as in all requests to God, let us always remember that He knows what is best for us.  

God does not intend to punish, but would rather like to refine us through this type of suffering. Actually, we can gain spiritual enrichment through such experiences. Suffering brings out the “real” or inner man and reveals our makeup. Many have found that by accepting difficulties and troubles their hearts have become softened. The humility this brings opens our mind to our dependency on God and His purpose for us. Then we can understand that, through suffering and difficulties, He intends to draw us closer to Him. Joseph was sold as a slave by his own brothers. Rather than being bitter about this, he let God work in him. He filled a great place in God’s plan. Later he told his repentant brothers, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive” (Genesis 50:20). He was blessed in his submission.

The suffering we experience tends to make us think about ourselves. We may feel alone in our problems and think no one understands. The burdens we have may seem greater than what others have to bear. It is easy to indulge in self-pity and become bitter, but the example of Joseph shows us how God can bless us as we submit to Him.

Rather than despairing, we can allow our suffering to be turned to the glory of God. Once we are resigned to our lot and can humbly say, “Lord, Thy will be done,” God can speak to us. There are many instances where people have thanked God for taking them through the valley of suffering because it has caused them to stop and think. They then realize there is more to life than to fulfill their own desires, pleasures, and pursuits. Many testify that they have found the Lord through suffering. Then, when they must face death, they can joyfully say with Paul, “Death is swallowed up in victory. The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:54, 56-57).

Suffering will be the eternal lot of all those who reject Jesus (John 12:48). However, those who are willing to suffer for Jesus in this life will enjoy the rewards of eternity with no suffering at all (Revelation 21:4). By humbling ourselves to accept God’s way for us and repenting of our sins, our robes can be washed white in the blood of the Lamb. Those who are redeemed in this way can obtain the heavenly reward (Revelation 7:13-14).

Suffering would teach us to be more sympathetic to others. We may make little effort to visit or pray for the afflicted, until we have experienced suffering ourselves. “That we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God” (2 Corinthians 1:4).

Jesus, who once lived on this earth in a body like ours, understands us and our sufferings well. He can sympathize with us beyond the capacity of any human being. He knows our pain and our troubled heart. When Jesus witnessed the grief of His friends at the death of Lazarus, He was so touched in His heart that He groaned within Himself and wept (John 11:33-35). He gave Himself to suffering for the eternal salvation of humanity. If He, being the perfect Son of God, accepted this, then we should be willing to also endure affliction. True followers of God willingly accept adversity since they are servants of Him, who is their example. A vision of Jesus, His love, and His sacrifice, causes them to consider, “Why should we be spared suffering?”

Even though we may have to suffer extensively, we can find a rest in accepting what God has allowed to us. God is the Master Planner-with every trial He has promised to provide for our keeping. When the apostle Paul was able to accept his difficulty or handicap, he was able to be a happy and useful person. He prayed three times, asking God to remove the thorn from his flesh, but God answered, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Similarly, as we completely surrender to God and accept our suffering, God’s strength sustains us. When we accept God’s plan for us in suffering, it brings forth an expression of thankfulness that blesses our hearts and witnesses to those around us.

Alcohol-Have You Counted the Cost?

“Who hath woe? Who hath sorrow? Who hath contentions? Who hath babbling? Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder” (Proverbs 23:29-32).

The Bible portrays a very true picture of the results of using alcohol. Woe, sorrow, babbling, and wounds are part of that picture. Much more could be added to the list of woes of those who tarry at the wine.

Many respectable people have become degraded through the use of alcohol. It has brought about the abusing of their families, stealing, murdering, and unfaithfulness to marriage vows.

Many young husbands and wives look forward to a life of companionship and trust, only to have alcohol shatter the possibilities of a happy life.

Alas, that first drink was carelessly and casually taken. Too little thought was given to the future. As time went on, more and more alcohol was needed to alleviate the unending stresses and pressures of life. Misunderstandings, arguments, and feelings of not being appreciated became more frequent until hope for anything better disappeared. Alcohol became a crutch to get through these problems. Money that the family needed in the home was spent for drink and was gone. To find time together as a family appeared impossible. Finally, it seemed alcohol became the only answer to the many problems. It temporarily blurred or blocked out the worries and frustrations of life. But with the return of sobriety, the problems just multiplied along with the desire for another drink. The user of alcohol has been captured by it and become its servant, wounding himself and others. He seems to be on an endless treadmill-without any hope. But wait! There is hope and an answer for that terrible thirst.

Jesus Is the Answer

Jesus offers water that satisfies the thirst of man. In Jesus’ day He met a woman who had come to a well for water. He told her He could give her water that would satisfy her, and she would never thirst again. Every soul of man thirsts for this satisfying water, for it heals the soul. (John 4:5-26)

God has a beautiful way. He says: “I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely” (Revelation 21:6). Jesus is that living fountain. Come to Him just as you are. Tell Him that you are unable to help yourself. Tell Him that you now realize that it will take Him to deliver you from the devastating grip of alcohol. You know from past experience that willpower alone is not enough to overcome this intense temptation.

Come to God as a sinner and repent of your selfish and sinful life. Believe that God will have a way for you. You will find the grace to totally surrender to Him. The blood of Jesus Christ will wash away your sins and you can receive the promise found in Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, let us reason together saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow: though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” When God forgives, He does not leave us empty but fills our hearts with love and grace.

When the love of God has filled your heart, a deep satisfaction and contentment will come over you. You will be His child. Your spirit will be free and open, and you will have an assurance of salvation. You will know one to whom you can go in confidence when tests and difficulties come. As your spiritual thirst is satisfied, there will be strength to deal with the desire and craving for alcohol. The wounds can be healed, and the scars that remain will serve to remind you of God’s marvelous grace. Won’t you come and drink of that living water? “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37).

Support and Fellowship of God’s People

It is very important to continue to seek God’s will in other areas of your life. God’s church is a haven where you can find fellowship and support in the trying times that will surely come. God would like to replace the unwholesome comradeship of the past life with a new companionship. The fellowship of God’s people will help you to find direction for the future and support when temptations assail you.

“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:1-6).

A Biblical Guide to Salvation-Fill your Heart with Peace Today

What must I do to be saved? How can I gain peace of mind today and heaven “tomorrow”? We must come to God for the answer to these questions. Here is what the Bible says about God and how to find salvation.

CHARACTERISTICS OF GOD

God is supreme. He is the creator of the universe. He is also an affectionate father who loves his children and wants their obedience and devotion. He disciplines them when they disobey, but is ready to forgive when they repent.

GOD IS:

CREATOR—In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth (Genesis 1:1). Revelation 4:11, Hebrews 11:3, Colossians 1:16-17

LOVING—I have loved thee with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). Exodus 34:6, 1 John 4:8, Romans 5:8

HOLY—Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the Lord our God is holy (Psalms 99:9). 1 Samuel 2:2, Exodus 15:11

RIGHTEOUS—For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness (Psalm 11:7). Revelation 15:3, Psalm 145:17, Acts 17:31

CHARACTERISTICS OF MAN

God created man in his own image, giving him a free will—free to obey or disobey his laws. Human nature is inclined to disobey, and this is sin. God holds us responsible for making the right decisions.

MAN IS:

CREATED IN GOD’S LIKENESS—So God created man in his own image (Genesis 1:27).

SINFUL BY NATURE—All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). 1 John 1:8, Romans 5:12, James 1:14-15, Galatians 5:19-21

SUBJECT TO DECEPTION—There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death (Proverbs 14:12). Jeremiah 17:9

SEPARATED FROM GOD—But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear (Isaiah 59:2).

GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS WILL NOT OVERLOOK SIN

Since God is perfectly good and man by contrast is sinful, a barrier has come between us and God. Every man shall be put to death for his own sin (Deuteronomy 24:16). Romans 14:12

SIN MUST BE PUNISHED BY DEATH—The soul that sinneth, it shall die (Ezekiel 18:4). Romans 6:23, James 1:15, Matthew 25:31-33

THE PUNISHMENT PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO SIN—Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15). Matthew 3:7, Matthew 25:41, Matthew 13:40-42, Mark 16:16, Mark 3:29, Luke 3:17, Luke 12:5, Luke 16:23

HOW CAN WE BE FORGIVEN

The judgments of God are sure, requiring the punishment of all who sin. God sent his beloved son, Jesus, who was without sin, to die in our place. God’s judgment was satisfied only through the shedding of Jesus’s blood. By rising again, Jesus triumphed over sin and death. If we repent of our sins and truly believe on Jesus as our Savior, we can have a new life now, and eternal life in heaven.

GOD LOVES US AND WANTS TO SAVE US—In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:9-10). Matthew 11:28, Revelation 3:20, John 3:16

WE MUST BE BORN AGAIN—Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit (John 3:7-8).

GOOD WORKS ALONE ARE NOT ENOUGH—Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us (Titus 3:5). Matthew 5:20, Romans 3:20, Galatians 2:16, Ephesians 2:9

SALVATION IS AVAILABLE ONLY THROUGH JESUS—Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14:6). 1 Timothy 2:5-6, John 1:12, Matthew 1:21, Romans 1:16, Acts 4:10-12

WE ARE SAVED BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH—For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). Romans 3:22-24, Luke 7:50

THE WAY OF SALVATION

When a sinner turns away from sin and completely surrenders to God, there is a transformation of the heart and life. His desire for the ways of God now means more to him than the desire for his own pleasure and satisfaction. There is a new birth—a new life!

Following are Scripture references to help one understand the new birth experience:

CONVICTION—Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? (Acts 2:37). Psalm 51:3, Psalm 73:21, Daniel 9:5

SORROW—For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10). 2 Samuel 12:13, Psalm 51:5, Matthew 5:3-4, Matthew 26:75

CONFESSION—If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). James 5:16, Psalm 51:3

BELIEF—But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6). Acts 9:6, Acts 11:18

RESTITUTION—Then it shall be, because he hath sinned, and is guilty, that he shall restore that which he took violently away, or the thing which he hath deceitfully gotten, or that which was delivered him to keep, or the lost thing which he found (Leviticus 6:4). Exodus 22:1, Luke 19:1-10

OBEDIENCE—And he [Saul] trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do (Acts 9:6).

TRANSFORMATION—Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). Galatians 5:19-23

THE WITNESS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God (Romans 8:16). 1 John 4:13, Acts 2:38, Romans 8:9

The joy and gratitude of the saved soul inspires him to obey the Word and the Holy Spirit. Obedience to the Lord brings blessing and satisfaction that far exceeds all that the world may offer. Faithfulness to his commandments is well rewarded. But he that endureth to the end shall be saved (Matthew 10:22).