Why do we have to suffer?
12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. (NIV)
I was speaking with a person last night. This person had shared with our group her history of suffering. I said in response that her suffering was never God’s will or desire for her life. Later, she asked if God didn’t want her to suffer, why did He allow it to happen?
The answer is odd I suppose. The answer is love. God desires a loving relationship with us. He is not interested in robots who do what He says. He desires communion and fellowship with His creation. But for love to be love, there must be a choice so we have free will. This free will that God allows to create the opportunity for loving communion also gives the opportunity to reject God and His ways leading to sin and sin always causes harm to those who sin and those who are sinned against. So there is suffering.
At the same time, God calls us to suffer. Our calling is to take up our cross and follow Him. This is a call to suffer for Him. The truth is the spiritual battle we spoke about yesterday causes the world to accept Christ or reject Him. The more overtly we walk in the Spirit, the more people will love or hate us just as they did Christ. Following Christ requires suffering.
On top of this, Christ will send us into the world as His ambassadors exposing us to suffering. He allows desert seasons of sickness and calamity. Why do we have to suffer trials?
Truth faith can only be seen in suffering. True love can only be seen in the absence of explicit kindness. We know if we truly love God when we keep loving Him while suffering. If we become disgruntled with Him because He hasn’t protected us, we may only love Him as a bodyguard instead of our Father. If we abandon Him in seasons of lack, we may only love Him as a welfare provider and not the lover of our souls.
Had sin never entered into man, our nearness to God would have made His love so crystal clear that we would have leaned into Him. Sin has caused our natural state to oppose God. Our flesh must be cut away. This cutting takes place when we choose to draw near to Him in seasons where it seems He is not returning our love. Suffering allows the opportunity for true love to be born in us.
Pray: Lord, teach me to love You personally, to not take you for granted or use you for my own pleasure. Help me to keep loving you even when in hard times. Amen.