In the summer of 2010, I was so confused every night as I lay in the hospital bed having suffered a massive stroke. “Why does God allow pain and suffering?” I asked myself as I laid with my entire left side paralyzed, feeling terrified, worried, and upset.
While going through the shock and denial of it all, I finally began to understand that there was a reason God allowed the stroke to occur. I know it sounds crazy but the stroke was the best thing that happened in my life! I want to share with you five specific reasons God allows pain and suffering in our lives–all of which I’ve experienced.
1. Humility and Brokenness.
God sometimes uses pain and suffering to humble us and to break our self reliance. To remind us of how dependent we are on Him. Every breath we take, our abilities and talents, everything we have is because God blesses us. I definitely needed to be reminded of that prior to my stroke. I had become so consumed with my success at work and the financial rewards it provided, my job had become my idol! God is the one that gave me the abilities to perform at that level and I needed to be reminded and show gratitude towards Him instead of always patting myself on the back.
2. Honor and Glorify God.
Sometimes we go through the suffering so that God is glorified and honored. At times people have shared with me what an inspiration or encouragement I am as I strive to recover from my stroke, but my response is “only by the grace of God.” He is the one healing my body, allowing me to speak clearly, walk again and now be able to eat and drink without drooling on myself. I am glad that my recovery allows others to see God’s power working in my life!
3. Helping to Comfort Others.
Another reason we go through suffering is so we can be a comfort to others when they are suffering themselves. In 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 it says:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”
God wants to use us to comfort others when they need it based on the suffering we have experienced and He brought us through. For example, instead of saying, “I’m sorry,” how much better is it to tell them you have been through something similar and God delivered you.
4. Have an intimate relationship with God.
I have been hearing about God since I was born. I was raised in a Christian home and taken to church every Sunday, but I did not have an intimate relationship with Him. I usually had to search for my bible on those Sundays. So how do you become intimate with God? By spending time with Him, reading and studying His word, and praying constantly. It’s like any relationship. The more time you spend together, the more you focus on that person and seek to understand them, and the relationship grows stronger.
That is God’s ultimate desire.
Seek ye first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
5. Help Increase our Faith.
As we go through suffering, we seek out God and when He brings us through, our faith grows even stronger.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
Joy during suffering? Are you serious? We may not be jumping for joy during our suffering, but we have joy in the sense that God is using this trial to test, strengthen, and even validate our faith. If we respond in the Godly way during our suffering, our faith is increased and we have joy knowing that God is in control.
Looking back on my stroke, if God can bring me through that He can bring me through anything! In John 16:33, Jesus says…
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you will have peace. In the world you will have tribulation but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
I pray you remember these five things the next time you encounter suffering or your faith is being tested. Know that God is the “Potter” and we are the clay. He uses the pain and suffering to continue molding us into the person that He created us for.