29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;
– 1 Peter 1
10 But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.
– Job 2
71 It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.
– Psalms 119
3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
– Romans 5
10 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
– Job 23
Have you heard of the saying, that if life gives you lemons make a lemonade? This is certainly true except that is not life that gives it but God. God is sovereign over all (Proverbs 16:33). And if God is sovereign over all, then He ordained or allowed suffering for His purpose (Isaiah 45:7).
With that there are two reasons why God allows or ordains suffering
The Origin of Suffering
Penal suffering is suffering caused by God as a penalty for a sin committed. This first occurred when Adam and Eve sinned against the LORD. Since they were the genesis of humanity, physical (Genesis 6:3) and spiritual death (Romans 5:12-14) became their penalty. Consequential suffering on the other hand is caused by a deliberate act which would have a ripple effect.
When sin entered into the world it directly affected creation. Adam sinned and God cursed the ground as now he must toil hard for food (Genesis 3:17-19). However, the curse also had a ripple effect The affect ranged from diseases to natural disasters. Animals and other organisms were also affected. For example. before Adam’s sin there was no death, but after his sin animals also would die and some became carnivorous, including man.
The affect was such that the Bible says:
22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
– Romans 8
The Believer’s Suffering
Believers are not exempt of suffering. When they have become regenerated by the Holy Spirit, and they are changed from within, they still retain the nature to rebel only now they have a new nature (Romans 8:6-7. 2 Corinthians 5:17). We will continue to experience both types suffering until we die, or that Jesus returns.
However, there is another reason why we suffer and it is for our perfection.
Suffering has a way of purifying us as a sword blade made in the furnace. The iron billet is heated until it is red hot so as to become malleable, and in the process expose impurities; then it is beaten into shape, then heated again. The process continues until it is shaped as intended, hardened, then made razor sharp. What was once an iron billet became a steel sword fit for battle.
In one of the most important Christian documentary of our time, American Gospel: Christ Alone, Steve Lawson in speaking about suffering in the light of the dangers of the Word of Faith Movement said this with regard of suffering:
“God has purposes in our suffering: to humble us, to conform us into the image of Christ, to weine us off from the world, to purify us, to help us identify with others who are suffering”