Q: If God loves His children, then why do many Christians suffer, and some of them suffer a lot?
Suggested Daily Reading: Matthew 15:21-28
A: Years ago, a woman was traveling by stagecoach in Montana on a bitterly cold winter day. Temperatures were far below zero. She was not properly dressed for a lengthy trip in this type of cold weather, and the driver was worried that she would freeze to death. He kept calling back to her to make sure fatal drowsiness did not set in. When she no longer answered, he stopped, seized the woman, pulled her out, dragged her over the frozen ground, and left her there. Then he drove away. The woman awoke from this rough treatment and saw the driver leaving with his empty coach. She started yelling and screaming and running after the stagecoach. But he paid no attention and kept driving.
Were the driver’s actions ones of love? Or did they just produce suffering? In actuality the driver knew that the only way he could keep this lady alive was to force her to run and get her circulation flowing and her body warmed. After she had run a sufficient length of time, he stopped and helped her back into the coach.
Sometimes God’s actions may appear to be like the stagecoach driver’s. They seem so harsh and uncaring. They appear to only produce suffering. But actually, the Lord will often use affliction to draw us closer to Him. We often learn most about ourselves and God in times of affliction. Such times are often used to get our spiritual circulation flowing and to warm our hearts again. God’s ways are higher than ours. Often we cannot understand His dealings in our lives. Think of the story of Joseph and the suffering he experienced as a slave and a prisoner. But what does Joseph say years later when speaking with his brothers who had so terribly mistreated him? “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive” (Gen 50:19-20).
Read the daily reading listed above. Did it seem like Jesus was treating this woman unkindly? Yet we see in the end that what looked like “pushing her away” was really “drawing her closer” and developing and bringing into the open deeper levels of her faith. God often uses afflictions in our lives to produce good results. This is why we sing in Psalter 329:4 (from Ps. 119) “Affliction has been for my profit, that I to Thy statutes might hold.”
No one wants to experience affliction or suffering, but when these experiences draw us closer to God are they not be blessings as well? Would you be willing to suffer afflictions if they were used by God to deepen your faith and unite you more intimately with Jesus Christ?