What role should suffering play in the life of a believer? Some think that suffering shouldn’t be a part of our lives. If we are truly walking with God, we won’t experience the same hurts, tragedies and trials that the rest of the world does.
Sometimes people convey this message without even realizing it. We come across someone who has been diagnosed with a serious medical condition and we tell them how to “fix” it or what they could have done to avoid it.
We find out that someone has just lost their job so we speak the typical Christianese language of, “God will provide” and we move on, expecting them to be able to rejoice in their trial.
We learn of a son or daughter who has walked away from the Lord and we tell our friend that we aren’t surprised, if they had only learned how to parent better. Okay, we don’t always come right out and say that but we certainly think it. We offer our opinion because well, our children seem to be doing okay so we certainly must have the market on parenting.
What it comes down to is that we think suffering shouldn’t be a part of a believer’s life. There shouldn’t be sickness and losses. So we either try to fix other people’s problems, we judge them or we give them pat Christian answers.
I used to wonder if I was the only one who found it frustrating that when I was going through a trial, everyone around me seemed to have “the answer.” I have seen this played out time and time again throughout the years. But then I read something in “The Message” Bible that gave me a sigh of relief.
Right before the book of Job there is a preface from the author. It says: “The book of Job is not only a witness to the dignity of suffering and God’s presence in our suffering but is also our primary biblical protest against religion that has been reduced to explanations or ‘answers.’ Many of the answers that Job’s so-called friends give him are technically true. But it is the ‘technical’ part that ruins them.”
I like how the author describes “the dignity of suffering.” This gives a new perspective to the idea of suffering. There is dignity in it. Instead, we try to act as if there is something wrong with suffering, which is why we try to come up with the answers or throw Scripture around.
Most of the time people aren’t looking for us to give an answer when they are suffering. They simply want a listening ear and someone who will offer to pray. Many times we really don’t want to hear the Scripture verses because quite honestly, we already know them. We just want to be human for a moment in time and learn how to get through what we are going through.
There is dignity in suffering. There is nothing really wrong with suffering because as the author later says, “When these people go through suffering, their lives are often transformed, deepened, marked with beauty and holiness, in remarkable ways that could never have been anticipated before the suffering.”
Let God do His work in suffering.