Suffering and Evil
Often Christians wrongly believe that if they live a godly Christian life, the Lord will protect them from pain and suffering. But the truth is we as Christians may experience pain and loss in life. This is not always a result of our sin, as some would claim, but rather, for a greater purpose that we may not understand immediately. We may never understand, but we can trust God in these difficult times, and know He has a good plan.
The story of Job is an example of that. Job “was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil” (Job 1:1), yet he experienced great suffering. He could not see why the Lord has allowed his suffering. He couldn’t see the heavenly controversy, behind the scenes, between Satan and God.
Yet, from the depths of discouragement and depression, Job rose to the heights of full trust in the mercy and the saving power of God and declared: “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15). And for his trust, the Lord rewarded him greatly. For “the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning” (Job 42:12).
Suffering is not always the direct result of sin. We have another example in the New Testament in the following story: “And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him” (John 9:1-3). Jesus did not explain the cause of the man’s affliction, but told them [the Jews] that God will manifest His power in healing the blind man (John 9:7).
All Things Work for Good
The plan of salvation does not offer Christians a life free from pain on this earth. On the contrary, it calls them to follow their Master in the same path of self-denial and shame. As Jesus was continually opposed by the devil and his followers, so will be all those who are God’s children. But it is through such persecution that the character of Christ is revealed in His children. “Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried” (Daniel 12:10).
In the providence of God, the afflictions of the enemy are overruled for our good. Paul wrote, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28). Nothing can touch the Christian except by our Lord’s permission (Job 1:12; 2:6), and all things that are permitted work together for good to those who love God. If God permits suffering and perplexity to come upon us, it is not to destroy us but to refine and sanctify us (Romans 8:17).
The troubles and disappointments teach God’s children the truth about their weak state and cause them to rely upon Him for support and for redemption. They also produce a more patient spirit. This has been the experience of God’s people throughout history, and at the end, they will be able to say that it was good for them to have been so tried (Psalms 119:67, 71; Hebrews 12:11).
Joseph the righteous faced so much affliction when he was sold as a slave but the Lord had a greater purpose when he later was chosen to be the ruler of Egypt. At the end of his life, Joseph was able to say to his brothers, “Ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good” (Genesis 50:20).
In His service,