by Jo Gritzon

The Tsunami in Japan, the earthquake in Haiti, the tornados in Joplin, floods and fires throughout the country, all of them are tragic and all have brought suffering into the lives of thousands.  It is easy to see the suffering that such tragedies brings but when we pause to look at our lives it is the personal suffering that we see most readily.  It may be a parent’s illness, a child who is struggling with peer pressure, a spouse who doesn’t meet our expectations, the loss of a job, financial pressures – all the things that make us ask, ”Why is life so hard?”

As a mentor you have probably noticed that these personal sufferings are what people most often bring to a mentor.  You may feel overwhelmed by the various things that your mentees are going through or even feel pressured to somehow give relief or reason for it all. It can be difficult to turn your mentee’s eye from the pain of their own suffering and feelings of injustice to see how God wants to use even this pain they are now suffering to their own benefit. 

God does have a purpose in the suffering that we go through whether it is a suffering that has been thrust upon us by the sins of others, suffering we created through our own sinful actions, or suffering that seems to be in our life simply because we live in a sinful and broken world.  James give us insight into the purpose of suffering.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4).

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”   

But it is easy to feel something must be wrong with me or with God when life seems to keep getting harder instead of better.  It is then that we need to look at how Paul goes on in verse 29 to show us that “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”  God’s supreme and greatest good in our lives is for us to be conformed to the image of His dear son Jesus Christ who suffered greatly in many ways and then gave His life for us.

I believe that everyone suffers and while my suffering is different than your suffering none of it need be in vain if we seek to find God’s purpose in that suffering.  To take a deeper look at the causes and purposes of suffering and how a Christian can respond click here.


Taking it One-to-One:

  • Has suffering deepened your understanding of God and your empathy toward others?
  • What lingering questions do you have about your own suffering and how are you wrestling with those questions before God?
  • Do you feel equipped to give others a biblical perspective about suffering in a way that encourages focus on eternal life, rather than on temporal circumstances?
  • At the same time, do you give them hope that Jesus is compassionate toward them in their suffering and, as a good Father and Good Shepherd, will work in their behalf for the good?