Three Purposes of God in Your Suffering

It's a timeless question: "God, why are you letting this happen to me?" We know that suffering is a result of sin and a fallen world, but that usually feels inadequate when we're in anguish. In 2 Corinthians 1:3–11, Paul lays out three divine purposes that can bring helpful perspective to the suffering Christian:

  1. To comfort others (v. 3–7). This not only means that we will be able to comfort those who experience similar afflictions as ourselves, but we can comfort those in all afflictions as God has comforted us. What a believer learns experiencing one kind of suffering is very transferable to other types of suffering. God’s sovereignty, trust, joy, faith apply to every type of suffering.

  2. To learn our own inadequacies (v. 8-10). Many times suffering will do this for us. We realize that we simply cannot depend on our own strength. People learn about their own insufficiency and are left with only one alternative, namely, to trust in God.

  3. To give thanks to God (v. 11). Having a brush with suffering can make a believer tremendously thankful to the Lord for his provision in getting them through the situation, providing comfort, or teaching a lesson. Suffering can also serve as a reality check, reminding us of all God has done for us that we have taken for granted.

This article is adapted from Why, O God?.

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