How do we answer the question of suffering as a Christ follower? How do we approach it as a leader when everyone is looking to us for answers? If we’re honest, not as well as we sometimes hope.
Here are a few thoughts and some suggested Scriptures to reflect on concerning suffering …
First, no explanation helps when suffering hurts. Being present, listening (and silent), is most often the best response in the moment. Just be there. And, NEVER say, “ I know just what you are going through.”
“Why?!?” We’ve all asked it. The simple truth is, we don’t fully know. God’s plans and purposes are His own. He ultimately owes us no explanation or justification. See Romans 9:14-29.
Yet, out of ultimate love, He gives us hope and a lot to go on in the meantime. His Word is full of hints and helps as to His “big picture.” See Isaiah 55:8-9, Colossians 1:24-27.
God will make it right. He will repay and reward in His time, not ours. See Deuteronomy 32:35, Romans 12:17-19, Matthew 18:6.
Free will (God’s choice) and the Fall (Humanity’s choice) are part of what makes suffering a reality. See Joshua 24:15, 1 Corinthians 15:22, Romans 6:23.
Jesus gets it. He can relate to suffering even more than us in order to express His immeasurable love for us. See Matthew 27:46, Hebrews 4:14-16.
Our pain has a purpose… not only to mold us, but to relate to and comfort others in theirs. There is purpose in our pain. See Romans 5:3-5, 2 Corinthians 1:3-7.
We cannot see it (and certainly don’t get it), but God will more than repay His children for their hardship beyond imagination throughout eternity. See Romans 8:18-21, James 1:1-12.
The best thing we can do is to be there and love people through their suffering and especially their very real questions. When the Holy Spirit has place and time for His work in their lives, only then will they be ready for any reason and rhyme for it all. Until then, simply pray and be present.