Suffering In Life: Is There Any Purpose?

November 4, 2019
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Suffering in Life

Suffering is part of living with paralysis. 

But it can also be part of thriving with paralysis.

The suffering that goes along with the paralysis life can be physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual.

In order to thrive through suffering it is important to have the right perspective on suffering.

Today were going to take a look at what suffering in life is all about including:

  • Reasons for it
  • Results of it
  • Ways to deal with it

So let’s take a look at reasons for it first.

4 Reasons for Suffering

In Timothy Keller’s book, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, he talks about the 4 types of suffering that humans face:

  1. Suffering brought on by yourself
  2. Suffering of betrayal
  3. Suffering of loss
  4. Suffering of mystery

All of these types of suffering can be associated with paralysis depending on the situation. 

So let’s take a look at each of them.

Suffering Brought on by Yourself

We can suffer because of our own foolishness. As Proverbs 13:20 says “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Harm frequently comes to those who are fools or keep the company of fools. 

The Bible has much to say about fools. The word fool today usually means “a senseless fellow, a dullard.” The biblical definition has the added dimension of “someone who disregards God’s Word.” The Bible lists many characteristics of such a person, often contrasting him with one who is wise. Ecclesiastes 10:2 says, “The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left.” A fool is one whose wayward heart turns continually toward foolishness. “Fools speak foolishness and make evil plans” (Isaiah 32:6). Proverbs 26:11 says, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.” Fools do not learn their lessons from the mistakes they make. They continue doing the same foolish things over and over again, to their own destruction (Proverbs 18:7).

Suffering of Betrayal

Betrayal is a gross violation of trust and can be one of the most devastating forms of pain inflicted upon a human being. The suffering of betrayal is often magnified by a sense of vulnerability and exposure. For many, the pain of betrayal is worse than physical violence, deceit, or prejudice. Betrayal destroys the foundation of trust.

Suffering of Loss

There are a variety of losses we can suffer as part of our human experience. The loss of a loved one, the loss of a relationship, the loss of a business etc. For those of us that are paralysis survivors, some of the losses we have experienced are more difficult for others to understand. The loss of independence. The loss of dignity. The loss of a vision of the future.

Suffering of Mystery

Sometimes we don’t understand why we are suffering. The suffering comes upon us not because of our foolishness, the betrayal of others, or our loss. Some suffering is just a mystery.

God tells us in Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Although we do not understand all of our suffering, God does.

Results of Suffering

Regardless of the type of suffering and how it is affecting you there are three primary results of suffering: Salvation, Sanctification, and Endurance.

Salvation

Jesus Christ is the ultimate suffering servant. Jesus is God. Yet he chose to come to earth and be born as a baby. To live a human life and become our perfect sacrifice. Although he was without sin he took all of our sins upon him on the cross. He suffered through the betrayal of Judas. He was scourged and beaten. He was nailed to a cross. He suffered excruciating pain. But the spiritual pain was even worse. For while he was on the cross for three hours he lost fellowship with the father as he took our sins upon him. He then died on the cross. Three days later he rose from the dead defeating Satan, and sin, and death!

If you have not put your trust and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ then suffering can be used to bring you to repentance and faith.

Romans 10:9 tells us that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead will be saved!

Sometimes suffering can put us in a place of dependence on God unlike anything else.

Until God is all we have sometimes we cannot see is all we need.

CS Lewis said: 

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

Sometimes suffering is what is needed in order to get our attention and shake us out of our complacency so that we may be able to spend eternity in heaven.

Sanctification

If you are already a Christian then suffering can result in sanctification.

Sanctification is God’s will for us as Christians (1 Thessalonians 4:3). The word sanctification is related to the word saint; both words have to do with holiness. To “sanctify” something is to set it apart for special use; to “sanctify” a person is to make him holy.

Suffering can increase your dependence on God. Suffering can be make you more humble. Suffering can make you reflect more on what’s important.

These are all extremely important parts of growing in holiness and becoming more like Christ.

Endurance

Romans 5:3-4 says “not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.

The writer of Romans, the apostle Paul encourages us to rejoice in our sufferings because of the endurance that comes as a result.

Through suffering we become more perseverant. More persistent. We become more resilient. We are able to endure more in life. 

But there’s even more that comes with this endurance. Paul says that the endurance we receive through our sufferings leads to character. This is a godly character directly comes from suffering.

And lastly he says that as a result of the growth in character that comes from the endurance that came from the suffering we will have hope.

Hope that God works all things together for the good of those who love him and have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

Hope that after we have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called us to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us (1 Peter 5:10). Or stated another way in 2 Corinthians 4:17 “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”

Suffering does not feel light or as if it will only last a moment when we are going through it. But when we compare the suffering that we have any life that may last 60, 70, or 80 years to all of eternity we can see that it is like throwing a single grain of sand into the ocean. 

And so we have hope.

Hope of receiving a perfect body in a perfect place with a perfect God.

Ways to Deal with Suffering

Suffering is not easy. But there are ways that we can deal with suffering more effectively.

Comfort Others

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

On our journey of suffering look back at those who are following the same path you are on and offer encouragement. Whether they are paralyzed or they are just suffering for other reasons. We can comfort others and so take our focus off our self.

Remind Ourselves

Samuel Johnson said “people need to be reminded more than they need to be instructed.” Consistently reminding yourselves of the truth described in this blog is important. It’s also extremely important to remind ourselves that Jesus suffered more than any of us ever have or ever will. Here are some verses to memorize and meditate on:

“He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted (Isaiah 53:3-4).”

“That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death (Philippians 3:10).”

“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:20-21).”

“For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too (2 Corinthians 1:5).”

Pray and Ask for Help

God understands your suffering more than anyone else. 

When you struggle with suffering take those struggles to him in prayer.

Also confess your struggles to those closest to you. 

Don’t keep them in the darkness where the enemy has all the power. 

But bring your struggles into the light so others can pray for you and encourage you.

You can thrive with paralysis even when suffering in life!

Also, I want to encourage you to check out our Free E-Books by clicking the images below:

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About the Author: Bill Davis

Dr. Bill Davis survived a spinal cord injury on November 26, 2011. After years of hopelessness he found a renewed purpose and is now on a mission to share hope and healing with the paralysis community for the glory of God.

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