The year 2017 was one of the worst years of my life. Why? As poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning said, let me count the ways. Firstly, my best friend’s mother passed away in January.
The following month I fell ill. I thought it was food poisoning but when I got worse and went to the doctor. They ran every test imaginable, gave me a prescription and sent me home. Well, I got worse. So much worse.
I stopped eating and could not keep liquids down. I ended up back at the doctor’s office and after taking x-rays, they sent me to the emergency room. More tests took place followed by the dreaded news that I needed to have surgery right away. The thoughts and emotions that I experienced were too numerous to count.
This was my first experience in a hospital ever (besides my birth,) and I am to this day grateful for the wonderful care and support of the hospital staff, friends and family.
By the summer of 2017, I had read and reread the entire chapter of Job in the bible. Although I never admitted it out loud, sometimes I would ask myself the question that we all face during major trials: Why are these things happening to me, God?
During my prolonged stay in the hospital, I was able to ponder over this familiar question and want to share these encouraging scriptural answers with you.
When Did Suffering Begin on Earth? (Genesis 3:2-5)
To find out why God allows hardships on earth today, I started at the beginning: when did suffering begin? Back in the Garden of Eden when Satan tricked Adam and Eve into disobeying God, he questioned God’s right to rule over us.
When we look at Genesis chapter 3 verses 2-5, we learn that Satan not only called God a liar who keeps good things from people, he also accused God of being a bad ruler.
Not only that, Satan was implied that we would have a better life without God ruling over us.
Now imagine me reading this passage of scripture as I’m sitting in my hospital bed with various tubes coming out of my body. Better life without God? Really??
Obviously, Adam and Eve fell for Satan’s lies but why didn’t God simply destroy them for their disobedience and start over?
When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they showed that they did not want to be ruled by him. Adam and Eve wanted to decide what was right and wrong.
God in his infinite wisdom needed to show not only his human children but also his heavenly creations, the angels, that he does have the right to exercise his authority over everyone.
What Was God’s Original Purpose for the Earth? (Genesis 1:28)
God had a purpose for the earth which did NOT include sorrow, pain or grief. His intentions are found in Genesis 1 verse 28,
And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. (King James Version)
Destroying Adam and Eve and starting over with another human couple would not have answered Satan’s challenge or fulfill his original purpose.
So, what did God decide to do? He is allowing Satan to show how he would rule over all of us.
God is giving us the opportunity to oversee ourselves under Satan’s direction. So even though we have the tendency to blame God when things go wrong, he is not at fault.
God Is Not at Fault for Our Suffering (Psalms 65:9)
Knowing everything I know about God, it makes sense that he is not behind all our suffering. The Creator that I have come to know is powerful and mighty, but his abilities are balanced with his outstanding qualities of love and justice.
Although I know all of this already, it was difficult to focus on why I have trust and faith in God while I was in pain. Many persons can agree that when things are going well for us, it is easy to serve God and exercise faith in him. However, when things get tough, it is easy to reason that God has abandoned us.
I’ll be honest with you: It’s normal to feel that way. Completely normal. It makes us human.
What helped me to move past the “blame game” was to think about the millions of other people around the world who are also in pain, worst off than me.
People are poverty-stricken and near starvation, they are sick and cannot afford proper medical care, they are losing their loved ones in death.
Natural disasters are also taking its toll on people and the earth, although there are things we can do to minimize the effects of these disasters.
Every day seems to bring about new challenges. To make matters worse, they look around at persons who are wasteful, selfish, greedy and cruel and may become bitter.
If you are not aware of the challenge in the Garden of Eden, it becomes easy to blame God. He has the power to change the world but has not provided for those struggling to survive daily. But keep in mind that none of this is what God intended for us.
Psalms 65 verse 9 makes it clear that his purpose was for us to have everything that we need in abundance. That scripture states:
You visit the earth and water it abundantly, enriching it greatly. God’s stream is filled with water, for you prepare the earth in this way, providing people with grain. (Christian Standard Bible)
This scripture provides us with specifics of how the earth was supposed to be and will be again one day in the future. The bible also gives us laws to follow. The misery that we experience today is a direct result of disobeying God.
An example I like to use with others to show them that God is not at fault for our suffering is that of any parent. If a parent tells their child not to touch the hot stove and they do so anyway and get burned, can you really blame the parent?
Similarly, God gives us instructions and if we do not follow them, we face the consequences. So, now that we know why we suffer and that God is not responsible for our suffering, when will the suffering end?
When will Suffering End? (Revelation 21:3-5)
If you’re expecting an exact year, month, day and time for when suffering will end, sorry to disappoint. But do not be discouraged! Although we do not know when suffering will end, we have the assurance that it will.
The bible makes the promise to us at Revelation chapter 21 verses 1-5,
Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away. 5 Then the one seated on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new.” He also said, “Write, because these words are faithful and true. (Christian Standard Bible)
Isn’t that good news? I get excited whenever I read that scripture. I envision the scene in the future as I follow along in my bible. A future where there will be no more sorrow, pain, suffering or death.
This is something people pray for all the time as they recite The Model Prayer found in Matthew chapter 6 verses 5-15 but specifically in verse 10.
When you reason on that scripture, we are asking God for the conditions on earth to be as they are in heaven. We can rest assured that there is NO suffering in heaven. This is something that we can focus on when we feel depressed.
We have a bright future to look forward to! To benefit from those promised blessings, we need to continue to try our best and put our hope and determination in God.
The Benefits of Enduring Faithfully to the End
From my firsthand experiences, I know how easy it is to have faith in God when life is smooth sailing or at the very least, manageable. It is when we are faced with severe trials that the true test of our faith is challenged. It is human nature to have doubts.
Never feel bad for questioning God. He WANTS us to talk to him through prayer. To pour out our hearts to him, our misgivings, fears, sorrows, and pains.
However, we should keep in mind that everyone suffers. Good people, bad people, Christians and non-Christians alike. God is not the cause of our suffering, but He is always here to help us in our times of need.
When I was at my lowest point, prayer and meditation on God’s promises of a time when all suffering will end kept me going.
There are many Bible examples of promises God made to his faithful servants and they were all fulfilled. This gives us confidence that His future promises will also come true.
We have every reason to look towards the future with hope and jubilation. Until then, we need to continue to uplift one another and keep each other firmly on the road to everlasting life!
Thank you for reading these scriptural gems I found in the bible! What other scriptures in the bible have you found encouraging when going through challenges? Please share in the comments below!