In my book If God Is God, I write about how telling ourselves these truths that God has revealed in His Word about suffering can help us deal with it:
God sets a limit on evil and suffering in your life. In Job’s life, Satan could do only so much for so long. God determined the limits. And since life continues after death, your suffering can last only the tiniest fraction of your true eternal lifetime. Rest in the knowledge that everything that comes into your life—yes, even evil and suffering—is Father-filtered.
Here and now, God offers you the comfort of His presence. He promises in Hebrews 13:5, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” This unusual Greek sentence contains five negatives. Kenneth Wuest translates it, “I will not, I will not cease to sustain and uphold you. I will not, I will not, I will not let you down.”
If you are God’s child, then your suffering cannot outlast your lifetime. Knowing that suffering will one day end gives us strength to endure this day. Though we don’t know exactly when, we do know for sure that either by our deaths or by Christ’s return, our suffering will end. From before the beginning, God drew the line in eternity’s sand to say for His children, “This much and no more, then endless joy.”
In 2 Corinthians 4:17–18 Paul speaks of relative weights. He calls our present evils and sufferings “light and momentary.” When we face a lengthy period of great adversity, though it hardly seems momentary, in fact it is. In eternity, people in God’s presence will fully agree with Paul that their earthly sufferings were unworthy to be compared with eternal glory.
As a young Christian I believed that going to Heaven instead of Hell was all that mattered. But as I read the Bible, I saw that to be called according to God’s purpose is to be conformed to the character of Christ. God’s purpose for our suffering is Christlikeness. That is our highest calling. If God answered all our prayers to be delivered from evil and suffering, then He would be delivering us from Christlikeness. But Christlikeness is something to long for, not to be delivered from.
Whether suffering brings us to Christlikeness depends, to some degree, upon our willingness to submit to God and trust Him and draw our strength from Him. Suffering will come whether we allow it to make us Christlike or not—but if we don’t our suffering is wasted.
Suffering and weeping are real and profound, but for God’s children, they are temporary. Eternal joy is on its way.
God promises that the eternal ending will break forth in such glorious happiness that all present suffering will pale in comparison. All who know Jesus will have a happy ending.
We just haven’t seen it yet.This article was adapted from Randy’s book If God Is Good. Also see the devotional 90 Days of God’s Goodness, book The Goodness of God, and booklet If God Is Good, Why Do We Hurt?, which deals with the question and shares the gospel so that both unbelievers and believers can benefit.