12 May Joy in Suffering
“Does a good God plan evil things for godly people? Why can’t the omnipotent God preserve them from evil?” were the questions
posed by Babu (name changed), a 16-year old School student. In a gruesome road accident, right in front of the eyes of his father,
his sister was crushed to death. Incidentally, after 20 months of the accident, Babu opened up to ask these questions to me. After
careful pondering over I gave the following responses.
Reasons for Suffering
Sins and Mistakes of Ours We reap what we sow, Gal. 6:7. It is true that God forgives our sins. Consequence of sins can result in suffering, immediately or later. Addiction to alcohol, sex outside marriage, etc. can mar one’s health. Our ignorance in preserving the health of our minds and bodies result in sickness. Failure to complete the assignments within the stipulated time can cause a setback in profession or academics. The indiscipline in setting priorities can cause havoc in our personal life, family and ministry. Our defiance to the law of the land can prompt pain and agony, which could be effortlessly avoided with cautious scrutiny of the situations at hand. Driving without license and helmet, building without permits from local authorities – are all potential pressure points. At times reckless pursuit in attempting tasks may result in catastrophe. Forty children died when they went expedition on a
lake where the boat capsized as it was overloaded.
Sins and Mistakes of Others
King David’s (2 Sam. 11, 12) adultery resulted in the murder of a loyal soldier and the death of a baby. The adamant Pharaoh (Exodus 7-12) caused the deaths of livestock, innocent children and scores of Egyptians. Recently, in our neighbourhood, a rice cooker taken off from the stove was kept on the floor by the mother. A toddler who ran that way fell on that searing his
beautiful face with a deep scar. The road accidents are blunders of the drivers and they result in inexplicable suffering to others, too.
Devil’s pleasure in infl icting pain on God’s children, as it was enacted upon Job. Multitude of missionaries and God’s servants face known and unknown dangers. Merciless killing of Graham Staines and his innocent little sons are characteristic examples of the fury of the evil one. But God never lets His people go astray.
Series of environmental collapse
Natural calamities have now become frequent. Nature hits back on us in manifold ways for infliction caused by the humankind. 26 December 2004 Tsunami which devastated many was unheard of before that. Gujarat (earth quake) and Himachal Pradesh (floods)
resulted in suffering and death.
Sonship (Relationship with God)
Jesus Christ taught His disciples, ‘… this (blindness of man) happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.’ (John 9:3) ‘. . . it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it (the untimely death of Lazarus).’ (John 11:4) A loving God permits suffering to His children so that they may be well equipped to receive greater blessings. Also, the Lord allows persecutions in our lives so that we may be revived, refined and made ready for greater challenges. Job said, ‘ . . . when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.’ (Job 23:10). Paul wrote, ‘ . . . everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will
be persecuted.’ (2 Tim. 3:12). Recall the famous words in Hebrews 12:5-11 ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, . . . the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son.’ Death of Babu’s sister brought the whole family closer to the Lord. ‘Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial.’ (Jam. 1:12)
Responses to Suffering
Praise and Prayer to Make I am sure that this is one of the toughest responses for anyone who undergoes trauma in life. We need to fight back the problems we face in our lives through praise and prayers. We need to seek God’s counsel and guidance to make us strong to endure the sufferings that may threaten our lives in Christ. In our fellowship, we need to uphold the weak and the meek and sustain them in prayers. Praying with those who are in need encourages them. Years back when an EU student lost her father, EU and EGF in the city upheld her in prayer all through the crisis. She became the ICEU President, stood first in her College and is now a tent-maker doing the Lord’s work joyfully.
Promises to Claim
A young man was diagnosed for hypertension, first time in his life. Being distraught with disbelief, his mind resisted to accept the
situation. In one of those toughest days, as he was counselled to wait upon the Lord, he confessed that God gave him a promise to keep it close to his heart. Since then, it was no turning back for him. For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us (2 Cor. 1:20). Claim God’s promises when you walk through the valley of darkness. When gold is in fi re, the goldsmith is near, isn’t he?
Patience to Endure
Our mind seeks answers for all our problems. Quite often we ask ‘Why me, Lord?’ But, do we ask such questions when we receive
abundant blessings from God? Suffering can bring out either the worst or the best from our lives. When we exercise patience,
we learn a lot. Solitude is one of the best teachers which makes us to become better and wiser. James wrote, ‘. . . testing of our
faith develops patience.’ (Jam. 1:2) The Greek root word used for patience here is hupomone, which is associated with hope
and refers to the quality that does not surrender to circumstances or succumbs under trial. This is exactly the reason for God
admitting suffering in the life of His children. Paul constructs on suffering thus, ‘ . . . suffering produces patience; patience
(produces) character, and character (produces) hope.’ (Rom. 5: 3, 4). Finally, instead of reeling under trials, let us revel in tribulations. As a child of God, I am glad to say that every pain, suffering and tribulation that I faced all these years have broken, melted, moulded, cleansed, blessed and nurtured me for the glory of our great God.
‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kind.’ (Jam. 1:2)
A. Clement Barnabas
The author is an active member of UESI working with Indian Railways as Asst Divisional Mechanical Engineer based in Trichy, TN. He serves as the UESI Board Sec’y.