Author: Ron Graham
Life in this world can be a sad and shattering experience. Disease, death, divorce, robbery, rape, starvation, torture, war, flood, earthquake... life can deal out some terrible blows. Truly, "All creation groans" (Romans 8:22). Most likely you have experienced something terrible yourself.
Probably the most common problem among Christians is that they lose faith when troubles come their way. They don't handle the trouble well, and let it shatter their hearts; they become disillusioned.
There's a popular misconception that being a good Christian insures you against harm and suffering —God makes bad things happen only when you have fallen into disfavour with him, and he wants to jolt you into looking at unresolved or unrecognised sin in your life.
Jesus once cured a man blind from birth. People asked Jesus, "Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?" (John 9:1-12). Get the idea?
If a mother drinks herself stupid day after day, she can hardly ask God, "Why am I and my children suffering?" If a man cheats on his good wife, he can hardly ask God, "Why has my wife left me?" But if a bus runs over a little boy, it's a very bad idea that God made it happen to punish the father’s sin.
God's attitude to punishing sin is clear when we remember why he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (2Peter 2:6) —yet let Ninevah off (Luke 11:32).
Job suffered, but he was tested not punished (James 5:11). In the same way, "God causes all things to work together for our good" (Romans 8:28). Somehow God can turn the painful things of this world into the joyous salvation of our souls. In the meantime Jesus is our sympathetic intercessor (Romans 8:34, Hebrews 4:13-16). In the end, God shall wipe every tear from our eyes (Revelation 21:4).
If life has dealt you a bad blow, you can find sweet refuge and comfort, in Jesus Christ, not bitter rebuke and condemnation. Jesus gets rid of confusion, despair, and guilt from your heart. In times of distress, we may say, "I can't stand it any more! I can't keep believing in the right when so much is wrong!" That might be just self pity. But it might also be true. God knows you have a limit, and he won't allow you to be pushed beyond it (1Corinthians 10:13).
From God's perspective (and he is ever watching over us) the safety of our souls is paramount. Saving us from suffering in this world is not God's main aim. That does not mean he is insensitive or cruel to mortals. He cares, and helps. But he sees beyond our present sufferings to our transcending future glory and immortality (2Corinthians 4:16-17).
To that very end, God even allowed His Son to suffer. Yet he turned that suffering into wondrous victory, freeing us from sin so that we could inherit that future glory and immortality (1Peter 2:21-25). By trusting God, we find hope and peace in the midst of our troubles.