But wait. Isn’t God supposed to stop suffering? Does the Bible not say He answers prayers and is a God of love and blessings? So why is there still so much suffering in the world? And by suffering I mean that really deep pain, where you cry out to God. It is different to the frustrations and challenges we have on a daily basis. Why does God let bad stuff happen to good people?
This question often pops up when bad things happen: where is God in all of this? Now I don’t have all the answers and I don’t for one minute pretend that I know how God functions, His ways are way greater than we can ever fathom. What I can say categorically though, is that He is there, in the midst of it, and in control. Nothing escapes Him or happens that He is not aware of.
The Bible on worldly problems
Many people believe that if you are a believer/Christian, that nothing bad should ever happen to you. It is even used as blasphemy and criticism towards God. On the contrary though, Jesus says in John 16:33 that we WILL have struggles in this world. His message right after that is to have courage, that He has overcome the world and He will never leave nor forsake His people.
As I write this I am reminded of the popular poem “Footprints”. These words held so much meaning for me, we had them printed onto the front of the Hymn sheets at my brother’s funeral. They gave us so much courage at a difficult time.
Many people have experienced this feeling when they have walked their own struggles with God beside them. Knowing the heart and character of God, and understanding your place on earth, produces in your heart a peace that comforts you, no matter what.
How many of you have experienced that?
Despite this, we are still sometimes at a loss as to how to convey it to others when they are in the midst of their pain. I know I was, until I read the words of Dr Helen Roseveare.
Helen Roseveare on Trusting God
I came across the testimony of Helen Roseveare, a doctor and missionary to the Congo during the uprisings in the 1960’s. It was her story of the water bottle that first grabbed my attention many years ago. If you haven’t ever heard or read it, you can find it at the link “The Hot Water Bottle”.
In her testimony, which she has shared with thousands of people, she gives an account of the night that she was brutally attacked and raped by the rebels, and how she heard God in the midst of her fear. When she cried out in anguish to Him, He answered her with a question:
“Can you thank me for trusting you with this situation, even if I never tell you why?”
Those words have impacted the lives of so many people all over the world. Helen was able to comfort thousands and reveal the heart of God in the midst of suffering, through what happened to her that night.
We don’t always see the bigger picture. And God doesn’t have to show it to us. But in this instance, we can see how that one event, helped God accomplish His purpose in so many different areas.
We are not all called to experience such horrific circumstances, but in Helen Roseveare, God knew He had someone He could trust to fulfill His purpose. Her influence and legacy live on through the people she inspired and the words she has shared, through books and conferences.
You can listen to her interview, where she shares what happened that night.
God Does understand our Suffering
Remember God knows exactly what we are going through because Jesus went through the most excruciating suffering when He was persecuted and crucified. This is not some CEO telling you what to do while he sits in his cushy office. He is hands on, right there in the thick of it.
What do we do in these situations?
We need to be careful that we don’t use suffering as an excuse. It is how we respond that makes all the difference.We can’t always control our circumstances, but we can control how we react. Suffering is meaningless if we allow ourselves to be victims. If we suffer through a struggle and then emerge the same as before, what a waste!
Keep on doing what is right. Keep praising the Lord. Guard your hearts and don’t let anger, blame and bitterness take root, it only delays the healing. God is not so worried about where we are, but who we are, especially during times of trial. If you need to channel your emotions somewhere, then channel them into prayer.
There are a dozen comparisons in nature where immense difficulty precedes something beautiful or magnificent. Diamonds and pearls are created under pressure. Don’t you think God is showing us something here?
What the Bible says about our trials
“Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.” 1 Peter 1:6-7 The Message
“For you O God tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prisons and laid burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.” Psalm 66:10-12
We don’t choose the moments that refine and define us, God does.
Trust God at all Times
So the next time we hear of yet another child missing, a tragic shooting or a bomb blast, know that God has not turned His back, He loves and trusts His people enough to handle the situation. He knows this because He is with them. We might think we can’t cope, but He knows with Him by our side, we can. If He can trust us who are weak and feeble, how much more can we trust Him.
His grace and power are perfected in our weakness.
If you are in the midst of a painful experience right now, or are battling to come to terms with a traumatic experience, know that God is with you and His mighty hand is right there to hold you, comfort you and guide you. His grace and mercy are sufficient.
Kay Arthur, precept ministries. Video on biblestudytools.com (https://www.biblestudytools.com/video/if-god-is-good-why-does-he-allow-suffering.html)