The Christian knows he’s going to suffer. It should come as no surprise – Peter warned in 1 Peter 4:12, “Do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” Yet suffering comes and we don’t always respond well. There are more biblical and less biblical ways to respond. How should you NOT respond to suffering?
Sometimes it’s a matter of self-reliance. You say, “I’ll grin and bear it. I got this. I’m don’t need any help and I’m not asking for any either.” This is practical atheism, denying that God exists by your attitude and actions. Wouldn’t it be better to humble yourself before the Lord and consider His plan and goals for you in suffering? Maybe He’s teaching or training you; Peter also advises in 1 Peter 1:6-7, “Though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
There are also false gods you could run to for comfort and help in times of suffering. Drugs, drink, relationships, stuff, food, even suicide, can help us deaden the pain and provide relief. These methods are worthless and empty in the end. Our best and only help in times of suffering is the one and only, true, living God, the God of the Bible. He hears His people’s cries and goes before them and with them in suffering. He is, “a mighty fortress, a bulwark never failing.” Do you know this God today, “who took on flesh as helpless babe, scorned by the ones He came to save? Til on that cross, as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied.” Only in the death of Christ can you live and persevere through suffering times.
Negative thoughts plague us when we suffer. “Why me? I don’t deserve this! Where is God? He can’t help me, He can’t do anything about my suffering, He doesn’t know or care, He’s out to get me!” God is not that small, and who are you to argue back with God? “He makes known the end from the beginning…His purpose will stand, and He will do all that He pleases (Isaiah 46:9-10)”. When Job asked God about his particular suffering, God rebuked, “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.” Let us learn to answer as Job, “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further (Job 40:1-5).”
DA Carson comments on suffering, “Is the particular trial I am facing God’s way of telling me to change something? Or is it a form of discipline designed to toughen me or soften me to make me more useful? Or is it part of the heritage of all sons and daughters of Adam who live this side of Christ’s return, unrelated to discipline but part of God’s mysterious providence in a fallen world? But must we always decide? If a little self-examination shows us how to improve we ought to improve. But there are times when all that the Christian can responsibly do is to trust his heavenly Father in the midst of the darkness and pain.” Let us learn this lesson of trust and respond well to our suffering.