3 Ways God Uses Our Suffering for Good
“Why does God allow people to suffer if He loves them?” A long enduring question by many, both who know and don’t know a relationship with Christ. Would you believe me if I said suffering can be used for your good and God’s glory? It seems impractical to say that suffering is good. In actuality, it is quite the opposite. Suffering and anguish is a completely unnatural event which Adam and Eve were never meant for. When God created the earth it was good, and it wasn’t until the collapse of that perfection in which suffering became known. How then can I say that suffering is used for our good, if it in fact was never supposed to exist?
We understand the reason for why suffering exists, because of Adam and Eve’s foolish disobedience. The reason ‘why’ suffering exists is simply because of sinful decisions, but the purpose of our suffering can be surprisingly glorious. In that purpose is how God uses our suffering for good.
Suffering is used for our good
That’s great to say that suffering is used for our good, but what does the word ‘good’ even mean? The word Good in the context of the Bible is different than the way in which we use that word in daily conversations. “I’m good“, “This food is good, “That dress looks good” are examples of misinterpretations we often use. It does not necessarily mean first- class or fine. The Bible defines goodness according to righteousness, holiness and honor. We see this in Genesis 1 during the creation when “He saw that it was good“. The world was unblemished, perfect and holy. Goodness is a Biblical term directly referring to God. God is good, so therefore everything from Him is good. Though suffering itself is not of God, he does use suffering as a means to demonstrate His goodness towards us. To understand this deeper, we could say that God uses our suffering to make us holy.
Paul wrote to the church of Rome in Romans 8:28 “and we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, and are called according to his purpose“. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that our suffering will be easy, or of no consequence. Pain and anguish is never easy. At times, our hurts can be debilitating and that pain can be blinding to the goodness God has in store for us. Though suffering is incredibly painful, there is good in it.
To understand this framework, let’s take a look at Job. God allowed Satan to strip him of everything. He lost his wife, his livestock, his home and 10 children. He wept in pain of his losses as they piled up before him. Looking at him no one would describe this part of his life as good. But even throughout his anguish, he never lost faith in God. Because of his faithfulness, God restored and blessed him with even more than he had before. God used this test of Job’s heart and the loss of everything he had to work for his good, to make him holy.
Trusting in God to deliver us through the pain of loss or suffering is a testament of our faith and hope in Him. Even in our suffering it’s important to remember that we can rejoice, just as Job did by the end of the book. Our circumstances do not define God’s goodness. God is always good and regardless of the obstacles we face that never changes. What a hope we have in Him, a rock, a firm foundation that even when we feel like our world is crumbling, He holds us in the palm of His hand. What God sees is good for us may not always seem good, but that is simply because our earthly and sinful understanding of what good is, doesn’t always line up with righteous and holy.
“Our circumstances do not define God’s goodness.”
Thankfully and good thing for us, God does not digress from His perfection. His plans for us, for our good, will be made known in His timing. We are reminded of this in Jeremiah 29:11 where Jeremiah wrote “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. The good works God is bringing you towards are all according to His plan for your good. Even the word prosper means to flourish. Just as God delivered Job through his suffering, God will always have a plan to bring you through, to see His plans accomplished and your goodness restored.
Suffering is used for God’s glory
Amidst our suffering God produces something wonderful. Not only does He work for our good, but all things work for His glory. God is not self- righteous by any means; He is completely deserving of our praise. Even Job who lost everything still praised God for who He was. Our circumstances are not a reason to neglect our Heavenly Father, even more so they are a reason to give praise. As Paul sweetly reminds us in Romans 5:3-4 “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” We glory in our sufferings because of the good that it produces when our eyes are fixed on Christ. Glorifying God through our hurts does not necessarily mean that pain will disappear overnight. Praising Him in our sufferings is simply believing and having hope and faith that He will deliver. Trusting beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is good, He is God and hears your cries, feels your anguish and knows your heart.
God uses our suffering to comfort others
It seems weird to say that suffering is a great way to point other’s to God, but God is a being of unceasing surprises. I have witnessed many times in my whole long 27 years of life the ways in which God uses our suffering to comfort others. I can sum them up in 2 ways:
God uses our suffering to comfort others by the way we react to suffering
The reaction we have to our suffering is an impactful demonstration to those around us. And the difference between a believer’s and unbeliever’s suffering should be notable. The way we conduct ourselves in our pain may not always be perfect, but it should always steer us back to God. Job is again a wonderful example of this, as he praises God even when His friends are spewing lies against him. How much more of a statement of faith are Job’s actions, than if He were to curse God and turn away from Him because of what God allowed Satan to take from him? The attitude we show even amidst our hurts is a direct reflection of the posture of our heart. It is a powerful strength (only given to us by God) that we can proclaim Christ through our actions and words even in the middle of an excruciating circumstance.
God uses our suffering to comfort others by sharing experiences
Have you ever approached a friend about a situation because they had also experienced that suffering before? God is so good and always places the perfect people in and throughout our lives right when we need them. God knows what we need and He also knows what other’s need of us. He uses our agonizing seasons as a future opportunity to comfort others in their time of need. God may even use your experience for future plans to call others to Him. God has used suffering to call many to Him, including Paul (a.k.a. Saul). And while your pain may feel unbearable in that moment, it is also encouraging to know that even our suffering serves a purpose for God’s kingdom.
Suffering is never easy, but God lightens our load as promised, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light ” (Matthew 11:30). God never abandons us, even in our most desperate times. The beauty of our suffering is that we do not suffer in vain. God has a plan for us beyond our understanding, and uses our suffering for our good, to make us holy, for His glory and to comfort other’s and call them according to His purpose. What a great and magnificent God we serve, that even in pain we can find joy in Him.
If you find yourself in a time of suffering, do not hesitate to reach out to other’s. Be prayerful that God give you strength and bring other’s into your life to that can give you comfort. If you have a prayer request, I would love to pray for you! E-mail me directly at email@example.com.