Am I suffering because God doesn’t care about me?

Posted: February 23, 2013 by thoughtsfrommyshelf in Theology, Thoughts

I was talking to someone recently who felt as though everything was crumbling. They felt as though God did not care about them. This person was saying that the next couple of months are going to be stressful and it seems as though it is going to be difficult to get through.

How should we respond to circumstances that seem to bring the weight of the world on our shoulders? What does the Bible have to say about suffering? Is suffering judgment from God?

First, I think it is necessary to address the starting point. That is, having a right understanding of who God is. God is the sovereign orchestrator who rules and reigns over every sphere of life. The Bible is clear that God is working all things for the good of those who believe in Him (Romans 8:28). He works all things according to the council of His will (Ephesians 1:11). He is even sovereign over the evil men do, and uses it for His purpose (Gen 50:20).  God is all good, all knowing, all wise, and all powerful. This means that there is no greater choice that could have been made, no plan could be wiser, and no plan could be more good or meaningful than the one God chooses for us. But this still doesn’t answer the question of why suffering.

Why suffering then? I believe that the Bible nowhere states that suffering is always an act of judgment. I do see it used as a form of judgment, but it is not the only reason for suffering. In James chapter 1 we see it as the means by which God builds character and perseverance in believers. In 2 Timothy 3:12 we see that those who want to live a godly life will be go through some form of persecution. We will be heirs with Christ provided we suffer with Him (Romans 8:17) This leads me to agree with John Piper who says that “wimpy worldviews make wimpy Christians”. When suffering comes– and I promise you, it will come– we don’t need a small view of suffering. What we need is a bigger, and more biblical view of who God is. A robust understanding of God will keep us grounded when the storms come in.

God upholds the universe by the power of His word (Heb 1:3). He calms storms and cast out demons and has His disciples saying “Who is this, that even the winds obey Him?” Christ is God in the flesh (John1:14) and through faith and repentance we can cry out to him who is interceding on our behalf (Romans 8:34). He will never leave us or forsake us (Heb 13:5)

Even more, Jesus doesn’t tell us to suffer alone. Isolation in suffering will only lead to more questions. In fact, he calls us to enter the “fellowship of his sufferings” (Phil 3:10). In a mysterious way suffering brings us that much closer to a sympathetic Savior who is for us and understands us (Heb 4:15). Don’t let suffering make you feel alone. It is in the midst of your weakness that God makes his power made known (2 Cor 12:9).

I have one last thought that I hope encourages you to find your hope in Jesus. We find in Philippians 4:13 a verse that is usually misused in so many ways. It says “I can do all things through him who strengthens me,” and many people, forgetting the context in the surrounding passages, cling to this verse as a fuel to get up and get it done. Almost like a, “He promises to get me through everything type of mindset”. This text is so much more than, “Jesus is my self-centered strength to do everything.” It is more like, “Jesus is the foundation by which nothing else matters but Him.”

In the context Paul is talking about being content and knowing what it is like to face plenty, to have little, to have in abundance, and be in need.  In light of this I believe the point of this verse is this: Situations and circumstances change, yet the only thing that does not change is my standing in Christ who is my strength by which I can endure all things! Christ has taken the biggest suffering we can face away, namely, the wrath of God . Those who have placed faith in Christ have no fear of the greatest suffering and are promised eternal rest. He has made us heirs provided we suffer with Him, and is interceding for us. We can make it through temporal suffering because Christ has conquered eternal suffering for us. We can walk through suffering with hope knowing that we are entering a specific kind of fellowship with Jesus.

  1. Lucy B says:

    Great post on suffering. I was very encouraged reading it-thanks!

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