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Larryon Truman

Barrett McRay
January 28, 2014

Purposes of Suffering
Dependency, Display and Comfort
The Scriptures are filled with the reality of suffering. Time and time again, we see both
guilty and innocent alike, being pained with suffering and struggle. We have seen human
suffering throughout the Bible in imaginable ways: famine, genocide, flood, and persecution. As
Christians, we must accept this truth and apply the purposes of suffering in our lives. And that
truth is this: suffering allows for three things. First, suffering builds a dependency on God.
Second, suffering displays Gods strengths through our weaknesses. Third, suffering allows us
to minister comfort to others who suffer.
First and foremost, we should examine what place suffering has had in a biblical context.
The Bible is full of suffering as well as redemption. An example of immense suffering can be
seen in the Book of Exodus, where the Israelites were in captivity as slaves for over four hundred
years. As the story goes, a leader, Moses, arises and (through immense suffering upon the
Egyptians) frees his people. Yet, the story of suffering and redemption isn't over. The Israelite
people have missed on key aspect in their suffering: they werent completely dependent on God.
It took them another forty years of wandering in the wilderness before they came to the land
destined for them. During their wandering, they relied on God for protection, shelter, and food.

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Their dependency was not impartial, rather it was absolute. It was then, after 440 years, that they
could fully depend on God.
Furthermore, it is through that dependency that we get to know the true nature of God. It
is not his intent to punish us or make us suffer. Rather, it is our need for Him, which is made
possible through our suffering, where we draw close to Him. We were created to be fully
dependent on God.
Additionally, suffering is a way that grounds us and can anchor us. Suffering strips away
the distractions of life and distills the essentials and most important episodes in our lives.
Through suffering, we forget all distractions and interruptions and focus on more important
issues. Issues of immediate attention and action. Often time, suffering brings us to the conclusion
that we are a broken people, helpless and needy, but have been saved and redeemed through
Jesus Christ. When we come to this conclusion, we find that we are completely powerless in our
situation. We cannot change the actors involved, we cannot change the setting, we cannot change
the outcome. We are ultimately drawn back to a reliance and dependence of the all-powerful
God.
Suffering is the state of undergoing pain or hardship. Whether it is emotional pain or
physical, psychological or spiritual, pain hurts. It makes us weak and fragile. Apply the right
amount of pressure on the right spot, and the strongest man in the world can curl up into fetal
position. What Im saying is this: suffering makes us weak. When we suffer, we experience
unsurmountable amounts of pain, and therefore are weaker. However, suffering is the state of
undergoing pain. That is, it does end. It does have a purpose. And it humbles us in the process.

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However, suffering displays Gods strength in our weakness. 2nd Corinthians 12: 8-10
speaks of Gods grace and sufficiency and how His power is perfected in weakness. No matter
how difficult the situation, when we draw near to Him, his work in us is done. That is, He is
glorified, his strength is shown in our weakness. God never wastes suffering. He does not see it
as worthless. He redeems all of it. He redeems suffering for his glory, and our blessing. He takes
the same pain that made us weak, and He is glorified, and we are strengthened in that process,
through Him.
Furthermore, I would like to state that suffering indeed is not pointless and cannot be
wasted. If one goes through an episode of intense suffering and/or pain, and has not grown closer
to God, or has seen Gods strength in our weakness, it has not been wasted. The sufferer (at least)
has gained tremendous insight and experience in their certain case or field of suffering. That is,
suffering allows us to minster comfort to others who suffer. Suffering may sometimes be used to
prepare us to minister comfort and hope to someone in the future. We must look towards the
future with regards to suffering. We cannot always make our own suffering personal and private.
Rather, we must learn from our suffering, so that we may be able to minister comfort to those in
similar circumstances. Additionally, 2 Cor 1:4 says that our Lord is the God of all comfort. He
comforts us in all of our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any
affliction, with the com for with which we ourselves are comforted by God. We have been
given, by the Great Comforter himself, divine peace and love to console and encourage those
who are suffering. So, even when it seems like there is no point to all of the suffering in this
world, there is. We can learn from our suffering and comfort other in the future.

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What I am trying to say is that it is out of love that we are allowed to suffer, so that we
might truly value and experience the love of God. We would think that his compassion would not
allow us to suffer, yet it is all the contrary. It is because of his great compassion and love that he
allows us to suffer so that we may draw near to him as our sustainer and provider. Without
suffering we would not know the value of Gods love.

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