sufferingIt would be nice if Christians never experienced pain – and always enjoyed blessing.

Some people like to present the gospel with this promise of blessing, but it is a false hope.

Scripture never promises Christians a problem free existence in this life. We look forward to such a time when we are glorified, in the presence of Christ, and living in the New Heavens and the New Earth. One day God will wipe away every tear, but for now, Christians encounter suffering. Why?

Why do we suffer?

The simple answer to that question points to the eternal plan of our loving Heavenly Father. He has chosen this way to reveal all His attributes for His eternal glory. Against the backdrop of pain and suffering, God reveals Himself in all His glory. It is in the context of suffering that God displays the fullness of His attributes. In the darkness, God shines the light of His truth. This strategy forever emphasizes the glory of the light in the contrast with total darkness. But, in this eternal plan, God does not abandon us. In the face of suffering, we see Him. We see His love, His mercy, His grace, His faithfulness, and His eternal power. We see all these perfections of God and more! We see the light in the dark, but the darkness never prevails.

God always wins by allowing us to see His glory.

We see Him in the face of our trials – in spite of our trials. We see Him and praise His holy name. The Apostle Paul was humbled by God with a serious affliction. He prayed for deliverance, but the Lord revealed Himself in a different way. The Lord announced, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). It was the Lord’s purpose for Paul to experience the power of God in the context of his personal weakness. In his darkness, Paul saw the light of God’s provision meeting His needs. God could have shown His power by removing the thorn in the flesh. This too would have been a wonderful provision. Instead, the Lord wanted Paul to experience His power so he could say with conviction, “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me” (12:9) – and “when I am weak, then I am strong” (12:10).

The Christian life is not problem free, but it is designed for us to see God and rejoice only in Him.

-Gary W. Custis