The Surgery of Suffering
God allows suffering. Some people like to say that God does not allow suffering. It’s just there. It’s true that we live in a broken world and will be pierced by the pieces. But Biblically, we see that God does allow these trials to sift us and these sufferings to sanctify us.
1. “Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it?” (Amos 3:6).
3. 1 Peter 4:12, 19 “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. . . So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”
4. Philippians 1:29 Paul writes, “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.” Our trials are hand-selected for us by God, but it’s clear that suffering for the name of Christ is a special privilege. See also the martrys under the throne in Revelation, given a place of special honor.
5. After the apostles had been flogged, Acts 5:41 tells us that “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.”
6. But we also see that our ordinary trials are also ordained of God. In John 9, When the disciples came across the man born blind and asked Jesus which of his parents sinned, he responded, “Neither sinned to cause this, but he was born blind so that God’s glory might be revealed in him.” This man spent his whole life into his adult years blind so that he could display the glory of God. (In Exodus 4:11-12, God is talking to Moses and he says, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord?”)
This seems really harsh. An entire life into adulthood without the beauty and wonder of sight in a world with little provision for handicapped people? But it depends how you view your life. A life on loan from God is dedicated back to Him for his glory. The world and some Christians tell us God just wants us to be healthy, wealthy, and wise. But this is not what we see in His Word. We were loaned a life to exalt Christ, even if through blindness or depression or cancer or pain. He didn’t send his Son to Golgotha so we could be rich and lazy. He sent Him so we could be made holy. He’ll send us down similar paths of suffering to bring us into glorious communion with Himself.
And this is greater hope for me than anything else you could say. Because there is purpose. If I have to suffer and not know why, I’m ready to give up now. But if I understand, this suffering is my cross, then I’m ready to take it up and follow Him.
If my child had a tumor or cancer, I would willingly submit to a horribly painful path for them–surgery or chemo. They might not understand why I was allowing them to go through such a thing, but I would know with a parent’s knowledge, that it was ultimately to heal them. So is our Father with us, taking us through the trials of this life into the glory awaits… and when we get there, we’ll know it was worth it.
So we wrap ourselves in the promise of Romans 8:28 and bury our hearts deeper in Christ and in his gospel of hope.