There are so many terrible things that happen in this world–terrible suffering and injustices all around us. There are some “Evangelicals” who believe and teach that “if you only have enough faith, you can have power to drive out bad or evil circumstances.” They even go so far as to say that “if you’re suffering, it’s because you didn’t have enough faith.”
Still, there are a lot of people who criticize us for believing in a God who allows “bad things to happen to good people.” Why do we suffer? Why DO bad things happen to good people?
A clear biblical view of suffering is not a view that excludes believers from suffering in this world.
First, we become very familiar with a God who condescends to relate with us on every human level. God is not so capricious as to watch as a mere spectator of our human sufferings. In and through His Son, Jesus Christ, God is “acquainted” with our sufferings (Isaiah 53:1-9). He knows the spectrum of human experiences as explained through many ways that the Messiah’s sufferings are characterized:
But, would a capricious God choose to experience this kind of suffering? Why would he willingly allow himself to suffer? It is because if we had to suffer it alone, we would only be getting what we deserved. However, Christ the perfect holy and righteous one did not deserve any of it. His suffering 1) identifies Himself with a fallen humanity, 2) Releases fallen man from the debt owed to God, 3) reconciles fallen man to a holy and righteous God. A capricious God might use suffering as a means of punishing a fallen humanity, but He would never choose suffering as a means of saving humanity. Only a personal God, a God who identifies Himself on a personal level with fallen men would choose to suffer in their place.
The worst thing about suffering in this world is the terrible sense of loneliness and isolation one feels while enduring the terrible pain. The Bible never promises that Christians will be exempt from suffering in this world. We are only given the promise that when we do suffer, we will not be alone (Matthew 5:11, 12; John 16:22). The presence of Christ fills us with peace to endure, but more than that, the peace of the Holy Spirit gives us hope for the world to come. If all we had to hope in was this present world of darkness and pain, what an empty and meaningless faith it would be. However, knowing that there is a better world where those who suffer faithfully will receive their reward for having endured the hardships of this world, gives us a hope to drive toward.
God is not content to leave us promises of what is to come, as important as that may be, but He shows us how to suffer (1 Peter 2:19ff.). We are not to suffer as those deserving of judgment from the world, but we are to suffer righteously by following the example of Christ’s sufferings.
As followers of Jesus Christ, I hope we can become more conscious of the truth that how we suffer in this world magnifies the sufferings of Christ. Also, i hope that out of our identity with Christ, we can also identify with others who are suffering.