Week 1: Surprised by suffering?
1 Pet 4:12 “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.” (NLT)
Suffering has a way of catching us off guard. It takes us out of the realm of the abstract and into the realm of reality. When pain and suffering touches us, or our loved ones, difficult questions frequently haunt us: Why? Why now? Why did God allow this to happen?
It is during times of suffering that the integrity of God’s goodness weighs heavily on our minds. Faith engages our emotions in a wrestling match, pitting reality against our understanding of God. Often, there seems to be no logical answer to help us make sense of suffering. Is pain part of the human condition, and why are we surprised by suffering? What does Scripture teach us about it? And, does suffering have a purpose? These questions are often silently whispered or grappled with during ‘the dark night of the soul’ but, fearing rejection, rarely voiced. To top it off, we seldom hear sermons on the topic, or – because of our human nature – we have chosen to believe that being a Christian will guarantee freedom from suffering.
Maybe you have been in such a furnace, wrestled with some of these questions, or are supporting someone who is going through tribulations. These questions, and the topic as a whole, are often neglected, difficult to answer but urgently needs to be explored and understood from a Biblical perspective.
In this devotional series, we will explore God’s purposes amid suffering and contemplate how trust and assurance in God can transform suffering into something worthwhile.
Reflection: How has your perception of suffering influenced your understanding and reactions towards difficult times you, or others, have faced?