3 – God’s Purpose in Suffering
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
God has a purpose.
“God is mighty, but does not despise men. He is mighty, and firm in his purpose.” Job 36:5
God’s purpose is sometimes different.
“Listen! Listen to the roar of his voice, to the rumbling that comes from his mouth. He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heaven and sends it to the ends of the earth. After that comes the sound of his roar; he thunders with his majestic voice. When his voice resounds, he holds nothing back. God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding” Job 37:2-5
“[God] brings the clouds to punish men, or to water his earth and show his love” Job 37:13
God’s purpose is always good.
“The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power; in his justice and great righteousness, does not oppress.” Job 37:23
1. God uses suffering to refine our faith.
“To turn man from wrongdoing and keep him from pride, to preserve his soul from the pit, his life from perishing by the sword” Job 33:17-18
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4
2. God uses suffering to reveal His glory.
“I tell you, in this you are not right. For God is greater than man. Why do you complain to him that he answers none of man’s words? For God does speak—now one way, now another—though man may not perceive it” Job 33:12-14
“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but He shouts in our pains. It is His megaphone to arouse a deaf world.” C. S. Lewis – The Problem of Pain
3. God uses suffering to teach us to rely on Him.
“Who appointed him over the earth? Who put him in charge of the whole world? If it were his intention and he withdrew his spirit and breath, all mankind would perish together and man would return to the dust” Job 34:13
4. God uses suffering to bring us to repentance.
“Beware of turning to evil, which you seem to prefer to affliction.” Job 36:21
5. God uses suffering to remind us of our reward.
“It is often the case as all the saints know, that fellowship with the Father and the Son is most vivid and sweet, and Christian joy is greatest, when the cross is heaviest.” J. I. Packer
- Why do we have such a sense of “suffering is unjust” in our lives?
- Why is good theology (like Elihu gives) so important to our understanding of suffering? How does understanding theology when it comes to suffering help you?
- Of the purposes Todd gave when it comes to suffering in our lives, which one do you resonate best with? Why? Which ones have been true for your experience?
- How does knowing God has a purpose actually help you in your suffering?
- How can your suffering (and story) be used to help others?