Man sufferingHe who has not suffered has not lived at all.

Job had a season in his life when he suffered devastating loss. When Job asked God why, the Lord revealed to Job His sovereign control over everything. Job responded, “I know that You can do all things; no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures My plans without knowledge?’ Surely, I spoke of things I did not understand… Therefore… I repent.” (Job 42:2–6)

I have heard it said and asked, “Indeed, life is suffering. Contradiction, misfortune, disappointment, and heartbreak surrounded us. Why must we enter the Kingdom of God through many tribulations? Why does God allow suffering?”

I used to think I knew the answers to those questions, but life — now that I’m much closer to its end than to its beginning — has knocked most of them right out of my head. God chided Job and his friends, as Jesus chided His disciples, when they drew wrong conclusions about suffering.

In the face of suffering, I’m learning now to be more or less silent. When my friends tell me their lives are difficult, I answer “Of course.” When they ask me why they’re suffering, I shrug and tell them, “I don’t know.”

“I Shall Know Why” by Emily Dickinson

I shall know why — when Time is over —
And I have ceased to wonder why —
Christ will explain each separate anguish
In the fair schoolroom of the sky —

He will tell me what “Peter” promised —
And I — for wonder at his woe —
I shall forget the drop of Anguish
That scalds me now — that scalds me now!

Why life should be this way, I cannot say, but I do know this: It will not always be this way; there will be an end. Eternal glory lies ahead, as Peter promised, “after we have suffered for a little while.” There, in that “eternal school room,” our Lord will explain our every anguish. But I doubt, then, that we will care. In the awesome flood of His wisdom and love, and in the beauty of His presence, we shall forget our “present, light, momentary afflictions and discouraging trials.”

Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:16–18

Personal Application

  • If you or your loved ones are suffering right now, I encourage you to lean into the Lord for strength. Trust Him with the purpose of suffering that may be beyond our grasp now.
  • Consider how you may know the Lord even more intimately through your suffering.

Jim Grassi image and signature  Jim Grassi, D. Min.

We cherish any verse in Scripture that reminds us to keep focused and intentional about evangelism and discipleship. “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:5