Why Does God Allow Pain and Suffering?

Pain and suffering, trials and troubles. Have you ever wondered what the purpose is of adversity? Like, why do we need to suffer with sickness and disease, or why do we need to have hardships with others, especially those we love? Today, we’ll talk about all these things and answer them from the Word of Truth. God has a reason and purpose for what you are going through. You may not like it but that’s okay.

Why? Because, my dear friend, it isn’t about you.

That’s a shock, I know, but it’s the truth. The purpose of your pain and suffering is not about you.

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It Isn’t About You

About 13 years ago, our church participated in a Bible study from Cleansing Streams Ministry. Week One, page one, started with these words:

It’s not about you.

That was an eye opener for many of us. My friend, Ann, mentioned how that made her think about her perspective on life.

For many of us, maybe you, too, your perspective is focused on yourself.

That’s not wrong, to some degree, as we need to care for ourselves. We need to work to provide a living for our families, to be present in someone else’s life to encourage them, and all that, but it’s so much more than that.

It’s not about you. It’s all about Him.

So, why would your pain and suffering be about Him? How is that possible when you’re the one who is suffering with sickness or disease or debilitating pain?


Related Post: Trusting God – Letting Go of Control


The Beauty of Pain

Yes, there’s beauty in pain. Stay with me as we pull all this into perspective.

Let’s talk about the One who died a most excruciating death. Why did He do that? Why did He take on my sin or your sin on Himself?

There is only one answer, because of His great love for us. He died as the propitiation of our sin. He died once, He died for all mankind, so that our sin would be forgiven — all the past sin, all present sin and all future sin.

Death on the cross was the only way to be the final atonement for our sin. Such a loving act by a loving God! This is the beauty in pain. The suffering that Christ endured was for you and me.

Can you imagine that, what it must have been like for Jesus to go through the horror of crucifixion? It’s beyond me. I’ve seen actors in movies portray that scene but that only touches the surface of the truth of what Jesus did for us.

The Purpose of Pain and Suffering

Because Jesus died an agonizing death, does that mean that we have to have pain as well? That’s a great question and the answer is no. We don’t have to have pain, however, a life without pain or some kind of suffering is considered a wasted life.

Consider this quote by John Piper.

“God seldom calls us for an easier life, but always calls us to know more of him and drink more deeply of His sustaining grace.”

― John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life

Yes, I’ve been reading this book by John Piper. It causes me to evaluate my life to ensure I am not wasting it. Here’s a sermon from 2003: Don’t Waste Your Life.

Jesus’ death on the cross is for us a reminder of the magnitude of God’s love for us and more importantly, it magnifies His Supremacy.

You and I have a single purpose in life and that is to glorify God.

Let me ask you a question. What do you think is the best way to magnify God? Through praise and worship on Sunday morning? Through sharing the Gospel with strangers? By teaching Bible studies or preaching sermons, or feeding the hungry?

These are all good things but the answer to that question is more.

Jesus said to follow Him, to deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow Him, Mark 8:34.

Did you know that in doing this, it won’t be better for you than it was for Him?

Let me say that again.

Following Jesus means your life won’t be better than His life was.

Jesus was mocked, tortured and killed in a most inhumane way. And He tells us to pick up our cross to follow Him.

Glorifying Jesus, magnifying Him is costly. Remember, it’s not about you, it’s all about Him.

We’re Made for One Purpose

God made us for one purpose, and that is to glorify God. In glorifying God, we also glorify Jesus. In glorifying Jesus, we must live our lives in such a way that others see Christ in us.

That means, in our pain, in our small discomforts or even our tragedies, they must see Christ in us and through us. This is a life that is not wasted, a life that has purpose.

Pain and suffering, tragedies and persecution have one purpose and that is to magnify God. In magnifying Him, we draw closer to Him. To be so dependent on Him that He is all we think about when the next wave of pain hits, or when the next email comes with bad news. Draw closer to God, glorify Him.

In drawing closer to God, what do you suppose the next thing will be? Won’t it be that you are sharing your experience with others? That is magnifying Him.

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For example, when you are in the cancer unit receiving treatment, and someone asks you how you are doing today, it seems obvious to say that you’re in pain. But wouldn’t it be better to say that God is in control? That He is sovereign and marvellous? No matter how I feel, God is my comfort and joy?

These are truths that others will remember when they think of you. These words will either draw them closer to God or they will push them away thinking that it is impossible. Either way, you have glorified God. You glorify Him in your demeanour, in your expressions, in your acknowledgement that the pain is meant for His glory.


Related Post: How to Handle Trials and Tribulations


Pick Up Your Cross

Luke 14:27 says some sobering words, And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple, NKJV.

Ouch! Am I not His disciple? I haven’t borne anything hard in life, does that mean I’m not a follower? Don’t think like that, but rather, think like this:

Bearing the cross is the means to boasting in the cross. Suffering is God’s design in this sin-soaked world, Romans 8:20.

Paul said that he would rather boast in the cross than boast in what he had done. He also said that he counted everything as loss for the sake of Christ. He loved Jesus more than he loved anyone or anything. It showed in everything that he said and did. He glorified God and he, in his letters to the various churches, told the believers to be followers of him as he followed Christ, 1 Corinthians 11:1.

Paul had a single passion and that was to honour Christ in his body, Philippians 1:20-21, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Paul suffered. He had a sickness in his body, Galatians 4:12-15, that he beseeched the LORD for healing. What was his answer? God told him that His grace was sufficient for him, 2 Corinthians 12:7-9.

The Source of Sickness and Pain

Does God give us pain? Sickness and disease are a result of Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden. The enemy is the author of sin, sickness, disease and infirmities. However, God will use pain and suffering for the purpose of bringing glory to Himself.

Does that mean that God enjoys seeing you in pain? No, it doesn’t mean that. It means that God wants you to rely on Him and He knows that sometimes pain, suffering, adversity, small discomforts or whatever, will be the means for you to draw closer to Him and to magnify Him in your life and in your body.

The night before I wrote this blog post, the LORD gave me the words to write. I had no intention of writing about this except for the LORD impressing me with the content. I woke up the next morning with pain in my great toe that resembled the pain of dropping a heavy object on the toe joint.

As I was writing this post, it dawned on me what happened. How the enemy wanted me to wallow in the pain and do nothing except be focused on myself. However, Paul said, “in everything, give thanks,” 1 Thessalonians 5:18, so I am giving thanks to God for His great mercy, for His love, for His kindness and for the words that He is pouring out through me. This is glorifying God.


Related Post: How to Hold on to Your Healing


The Value of Pain and Suffering

Jesus said to the fishermen, come, follow me. They dropped their nets and followed Him, though they knew not where He was going.

We know where He went and that His path led to the cross of Calvary. He told His disciples to carry their cross and follow Him. He is telling us to do that as well.

The value of pain and suffering is found in the cross. When we experience hardships in our lives, no matter what it looks like, there is value in it.

The value of pain and suffering is to magnify God. The purpose of your life is to magnify God.

Have you ever heard of an older song called “(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden?” It was written in 1967 by Joe South. The line I remember is this:

I beg your pardon
I never promised you a rose garden
Along with the sunshine
There’s gotta be a little rain some time

God never promised that we would have an easy life. Especially not when Jesus said to pick up your cross to follow Him. That doesn’t sound like an easy life to me at all. I’m sure you feel the same way.

The Cost of Following Christ

Yet, there are hundreds and thousands of people who seem to have it all together, beautiful families, money, status, material possessions, and everything else that indicates they have no cares in the world. They live for themselves, in the here and now. In reality, they are wasting their lives. I say this because they are not glorifying God.

People who glorify God are those who, though they may have material possessions, point others to God. They share a love for God in word and deed as they share His gospel message with others.

There’s gotta be a little pain some time. When it comes your way, make a choice what you’re going to do with that pain.

Pain draws us closer to God and allows us to magnify Him in our experiences so that others may be drawn to Him.

It’s not about you. It’s all about Him.

There is a cost to following Christ, to shining His worth to the world around us. It means that we will make Christ look great. Paul did this in his life. His mission or passion was to know Christ and Him crucified, 1 Corinthians 2:2, and to boast only in the cross, Galatians 6:14.

Be Like Paul

Paul aimed to magnify Christ by not being ashamed of Him. He desired to honour Christ in his body, whether by life or death, Philippians 1:20-21.

Paul considered that his life would be wasted if he didn’t make much of Christ. If he lived only for himself, he was a fraud. But as you read the letters that Paul wrote to the churches he founded, you will read that he was no fraud, that he was genuine in his passion for sharing the true gospel that was given to him by revelation from Jesus Christ.

He was genuine in his desire to magnify Christ in everything he said and did. And he loved the brethren so much that he prayed for them, loved on them, instructed them and encouraged them to live for Christ.

Paul is still encouraging believers today. He is encouraging you to pick up your cross to follow Christ. To live in such a way that you are not wasting your life but rather fulfilling the purpose of magnifying God in all that you say and do.


Related Post: The Believer’s Spiritual Authority


Glorifying God in Pain and Suffering

There is value in the hardships of life. In your pain and suffering, in your small discomforts like a painful toe or broken arm, in bad news like a life-threatening medical diagnosis, there is value. Find yourself thinking that it’s all about Him then exhibit that in your speech and your actions. Let others see that you are glorifying God. Focus on Christ and not on yourself. It’s easier said than done, I know, but it can be done.

These words are going through my mind right now. Give glory to God, Church.

Are you familiar with these lyrics of Give Glory to God sung to the tune of Chariots of Fire?

Give glory to God, Church
Give glory to God
Give glory to God, Church
Give glory to God

Sing praise to His name hallelujah
Sing praise to His name
Sing praise to His name hallelujah
Sing praise to His name

That’s a Wrap

Please don’t get me wrong about pain and suffering. I’m not saying that if you have never experienced pain or discomfort of any kind, that you are not magnifying God. Don’t go seeking pain either. What I am saying is that the purpose of pain, from God’s perspective, is to give Him glory and honour. It’s an opportunity to magnify Him in your words and actions.

Let the pain you experience be used to glorify God. Don’t waste it.

If anything I said today was helpful to you, please leave me a comment. If I said anything that you don’t think is correct, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts about the value of pain and suffering.

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2 thoughts on “Why Does God Allow Pain and Suffering?

  1. Thank you, Cindy, for clarifying words here.
    The glory of God, his sovereign right to dictate the parameters of my life… all of this cuts across my preference for control and predictability, and yet the choice has already been made.
    Blessings to you as you continue to share His truth.

    • Cindy

      Thank you, Michele. I’m glad that this Holy Spirit written post speaks to your spirit. (As I wrote this, I could sense Him pouring out the words, no edits, it simply flowed. Have a blessed day!

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