Momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
–2 Corinthians 4:17-18
Why does God allow suffering in our lives? Let’s look at three reasons God allows suffering.
First, God allows suffering so that we can identify with the sufferings of other people. You and I will never really understand as Christians what our life is all about until we understand it is about other people. The one reason God left us here on earth and did not take us to Heaven when He saved us was so that we could be His representatives here on earth. We are to represent Him to unbelievers by sharing the gospel with them. God also wants us to minister to fellow Christians who are suffering, and we cannot do that until we have experienced suffering ourselves. In 2 Corinthians 1:4, Paul said that God “comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” God wants you to be able to share with other Christians who are suffering the way God has helped you and strengthened you so that you can encourage them as well.
Second, God allows suffering to satisfy His plan for our lives. What is that plan? It is found in Romans 8:28: “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Everything in your life is working together for good. What is the “good”? It is not a happy marriage or a full bank account. No, the “good,” God’s purpose, is found in verse 29: “Those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” God uses not just the easy things, but also the hard things in our life to conform us to the image of His Son.
Finally, God uses suffering to nullify our fear of death. If you live long enough and suffer long enough, there will come a time when you are ready to go home. My parents and my grandparents said to me, “Robert, don’t cry for us when we are gone; we are ready to go.” God allows that suffering, I think, to make us hungry for Heaven to remind us this world really isn’t our home. We are just passing through. In 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, Paul said, “Momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” One day, we are going to rejoice when we look back and see how God used all of this together to accomplish His plan for our lives. But in the meantime, suffering is a very real part of God’s plan for us. Martin Luther said it this way: “Until a person experiences suffering, he cannot know what it means to hope.”
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “For Those Who Hurt” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2018.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.