By: Mike Riley
Sometimes trials seem to come one right after another. You wake up in the morning and your car won’t start. This unfortunate event makes you late for work, your boss chews you out, and your whole day is ruined. You later find out that your car won’t be repaired for another week and the bill makes you think you’re buying a new one. On top of this, you learn that a member of your family has been diagnosed with cancer. During times like these, we are prone to ask, “Why me, Lord?” “Haven’t I been living faithfully?” Why do good people have to suffer bad things in their lives? Many people throughout the ages have pondered this very question. It seems that the righteous suffer while the wicked seem to prosper. Job saw this clearly during his time of affliction (cf. Job 21:7- 15). In this article, let’s look at three biblical reasons why God allows good people to suffer.
To Establish Faith
Suffering can cause one who is not a Christian to recognize his great need for God. If one is to be saved, he must first know that he needs salvation. One who believes he is standing on dry land will not take hold of a life preserver even though he is truly drowning in the sea. Trials help to establish faith by causing us to see our condition before God (Luke 15:11-17). The Psalmist said, “Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now have I kept thy word …. It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I may learn thy statutes” (Psalm 119:67,71). God allows some to suffer to establish faith in Him.
To Restore Faith
Sometimes a child of God goes astray and needs to be corrected and restored to the right path. God doesn’t want to see any of His children fall away, so He chastens those who do (Hebrews 12:6-11). He did so with Israel as the Psalmist wrote, “When He slew them, then they sought Him, and they returned and sought earnestly for God” (Psalm 78:34 – NKJV), and He does so with His church today. “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten be zealous therefore, and repent” (Revelation 3:19). When suffering, we should examine our own lives to determine if we are the recipient of divine chastisement (Psalm 119:75). Trials are designed to make us look inward at ourselves and upward to God (1 Peter 1:3-9).
To Perfect Faith
For the faithful Christian, trials serve to mature and perfect the faith that is already present. With each trial we face successfully, there is growth. As Paul wrote, “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance character; and character hope” (Romans 5:3-4 – NKJV). With spiritual growth, comes the ability to better handle problems in the future. This is why James said, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (James 1:2-3 – NKJV). We should view our trials as God’s vehicle to perfect our faith.
God works out all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). We do not know everything that God does, but we can be certain that He is working to save as many souls as possible (2 Peter 3:9). If we must suffer along the way, we ought not to lose heart, for God is preparing us for eternity (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). Everyone will occupy eternity in one place or the other (Matthew 25:41,46). How we respond to God will determine our destination. Brethren, we must not let the cares of this world and the troubles that we have deter us from our goal. Paul encourages us, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18)