Counseling One Another

Helping you grow in God's all-sufficient truth and grace

Counseling One Another

RERUN – 36 Purposes of God in Our Suffering

Joni Eareckson Tada has given us many books on the subject of God’s tender care for His children in times of suffering. Joni strikes the chord of authenticity with us so well because suffering is the world she lives in 24/7, literally. My personal favorite is When God Weeps: Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty, co-authored with Steve Estes, a pastor in Pennsylvania. The following list of God’s purposes in our suffering is from one of the appendices in that book.

Take some time to meditate on the wisdom of God as He works out His perfect will through our suffering. No wonder James, the brother of our Lord, commanded us to “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials” (James 1:2)!

  1. Suffering is used to increase our awareness of the sustaining power of God to whom we owe our sustenance (Ps 68:19).
  2. God uses suffering to refine, perfect, strengthen, and keep us from falling (Ps 66:8-9; Heb 2:10).
  3. Suffering allows the life of Christ to be manifested in our mortal flesh (2 Cor 4:7-11).
  4. Suffering bankrupts us, making us dependent upon God (2 Cor 12:9).
  5. Suffering teaches us humility (2 Cor 12:7).
  6. Suffering imparts the mind of Christ (Phil 2:1-11).
  7. Suffering teaches us that God is more concerned about character than comfort (Rom 5:3-4; Heb 12:10-11).
  8. Suffering teaches us that the greatest good of the Christian life is not absence of pain, but Christlikeness (2 Cor 4:8-10; Rom 8:28-29).
  9. Suffering can be a chastisement from God for sin and rebellion (Ps 107:17).
  10. Obedience and self-control are from suffering (Heb 5:8; Ps 119:67; Rom 5:1-5; James 1:2-8; Phil 3:10).
  11. Voluntary suffering is one way to demonstrate the love of God (2 Cor 8:1-2, 9).
  12. Suffering is part of the struggle against sin (Heb 12:4-13).
  13. Suffering is part of the struggle against evil men (Ps 27:12; 37:14-15).
  14. Suffering is part of the struggle for the kingdom of God (2 Thess 1:5).
  15. Suffering is part of the struggle for the gospel (2 Tim 2:8-9).
  16. Suffering is part of the struggle against injustice (1 Pet 2:19).
  17. Suffering is part of the struggle for the name of Christ (Acts 5:41; 1 Pet 4:14).
  18. Suffering indicates how the righteous become sharers in Christ’s suffering (2 Cor 1:5; 1 Pet 4:12-13).
  19. Endurance of suffering is given as a cause for reward (2 Cor 4:17; 2 Tim 2:12).
  20. Suffering forces community and the administration of the gifts for the common good (Phil 4:12-15).
  21. Suffering binds Christians together into a common or joint purpose (Rev 1:9).
  22. Suffering produces discernment, knowledge, and teaches us God’s statutes (Ps 119:66-67, 71).
  23. Through suffering God is able to obtain our broken and contrite spirit which He desires (Ps 51:16-17).
  24. Suffering causes us to discipline our minds by making us focus our hope on the grace to be revealed at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Pet 1:6, 13).
  25. God uses suffering to humble us so He can exalt us at the proper time (1 Pet 5:6-7).
  26. Suffering teaches us to number our days so we can present to God a heart of wisdom (Ps 90:7-12).
  27. Suffering is sometimes necessary to win the lost (2 Tim 2:8-10; 4:5-6).
  28. Suffering strengthens and allows us to comfort others who are weak (2 Cor 1:3-11).
  29. Suffering is small compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ (Phil 3:8).
  30. God desires truth in our innermost being and one way He does it is through suffering (Ps 51:6; 119:17).
  31. The equity for suffering will be found in the next life (Ps 58:10-11).
  32. Suffering is always coupled with a greater source of grace (2 Tim 1:7-8; 4:16-18).
  33. Suffering teaches us to give thanks in times of sorrow (1 Thess 5:17; 2 Cor 1:11).
  34. Suffering increases faith (Jer 29:11).
  35. Suffering allows God to manifest His care (Ps 56:8).
  36. Suffering stretches our hope (Job 13:14-15).

Out of His deep love for us God is more interested in making His children like Christ than He is in making us comfortable. The glory He receives from redeeming depraved sinners like us and remaking us into His image will be the song that fills the halls of heaven for all eternity (Rev 5:9-10). Since that will be the case in the future, let us pursue joy in the Lord here in the present.

[The above list makes a great personal Bible study or the basis for small group discussion.]

[Originally posted March 20, 2012]

Print this entry

4 Comments

  1. When God allows us to suffer it does show His great love. Look at how much He allowed His very own son to suffer. This is truth that I need to constantly remind myself of. In our flesh we automatically want to run from suffering; it holds a bad connotation. However, God continues to show me over and over that suffering is part of His greater good! Who would have thought? It hurts. And although we may never know the reason on this side of life, we will one day see the big picture.

  2. 4. Suffering bankrupts us, making us dependent upon God

    7. Suffering teaches us that God is more concerned about character than comfort

    These two stood out to me in this list. God loves us. I have seen His faithfulness time and time again in the trials He has brought into my life when I look back. The Lord wants His children to look like Him and while I don’t always understand the way He chooses, I must trust.

  3. One thought that has been on my mind for the last few weeks is that my God is personal. He cares about even the small details of my life – even those things that happen that someone else might not think anything of. Along those lines is the thought that God even personalizes our trials. He doesn’t broad-brush difficult things for His children; each thing that comes into my life is personalized exactly to what I need and what I need to learn about God at that time.

  4. “Suffering is part of the struggle for the gospel…Suffering is always coupled with a greater source of grace…
    Suffering allows God to manifest His care”

    So many good things to think about – our suffering is about something so much bigger than us going on…its a way for God to demonstrate His grace and love. We might not get to see/experience God in the fullness of His character without suffering.