Reason 10: God’s Comfort Is Greater Than Our Suffering
Dr. Paul Brand: Two months ago when my wife had a massive coronary thrombosis and a heart attack, and I woke from my sleep to hear her calling for me. And saw her without a pulse, and I couldn’t find a heartbeat, and her hand was over her chest, suffering enormous pain herself, and I remember saying to her, “Underneath are the everlasting arms” [Deuteronomy 33:27]. And we both felt and attest to the power of the peace which took hold of us. She in the midst of her pain, I in the midst of my fear and terror of losing my wife, at that time, the peace of God that passes all understanding was such a tremendous and powerful bulwark in our own personal lives. Just two months ago.
Gerry E. Breshears: When evil gets to be so large and the pain gets to be so agonizing, it’s really hard not to give up to despair. The thing that constantly surprises me is how many Christians in the midst of what should lead to despair, in fact, find comfort and hope, and they claim it’s in the presence of God. That fact should bring us to pause. When we look at the death agonies of famous people, we find them ending life often with curses or despair on their lips. Christians in life, even in agony many times, with praise on their lips for a God who is present in that time. This is a fact that often makes us ask, Why is this? Is there truth to what they’re saying in the comfort of Jesus Christ in the midst of suffering?
Michael Blackler: There were times where the grief and the reality of this condition has overwhelmed me, and it’s like I’ve just put it in a package and said, “I’m looking at it, and I have nowhere to go with it but to take it to God,” and say, “God, here it is. You know, I can’t carry this.” And God is there, and He carries it, and He takes it. Again, every time that emotion comes up, every time it just seems to overwhelm me, I just keep giving it to the Lord, and I truly sense Him taking it from me.
2 Corinthians 12:9–10 (NKJV)
At one point in his own struggle and suffering, the New Testament’s apostle Paul pleaded with God to take away an unidentified source of suffering. But the Lord declined, saying,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
“Therefore,” said Paul, “most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Paul learned that he would rather be with Christ in suffering than without Christ in good health and pleasant circumstances.
Ravi Zacharias: I think it was Corrie ten Boom who made the comment, “I have learned to cling to the things of this world very gently, so that it doesn’t hurt when He pries them out of my hand.” And Malcolm Muggeridge once said [paraphrase], “Contrary to what might be expected in life, after all of these years of living, and enjoyment and so on,” he said, “I have learned much more of life through suffering and pain than I ever did through some momentary pleasure or through some ‘mumbo jumbo,’ ” as he called it.
Some of the greatest hymns that have been written…I think of Annie Johnston Flint’s great hymn, and Annie Johnston Flint lived with rheumatoid arthritis; she lived with cancer; she lived with blindness; she lived with incontinence. Annie Johnston Flint wrote this: “He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater…”
[Because of copyright constraints we are not including the text of the whole song in this transcript. See www.hymnal.net for the full text.]
2 Corinthians 12:8–9 (NKJV)
This is the grace, the divine strength the apostle Paul wrote about when he said:
“Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Luis Palau: The suffering of Jesus Christ gives us assurance that we will be forgiven by God, because He suffered in our place to the point where He got rid of our guilt and our sin and our deserved condemnation. He paid the price. He suffered to the “nth” degree. And He took on Himself all of the guilt of the world. For three days He was dead, people said. But He arose from the dead and He arose victorious, having overcome hell and Satan and demons and sin and evil. And as a result, we can be forgiven and know that we can have eternal life. And because Christ paid with His own blood and suffering on the cross, in our place, and He buried our sins, the Bible says that. He buried them forever, we can leave the past behind. And then when He arose from the dead, He arose to a new life. And we rise to a new life, too.
Now the key is, if all of this is true, and it is, how can I experience it for myself? And the answer is, you can know the forgiveness of God, the assurance of eternal life, you can know and have a personal experience with God, if you recognize that you’re unworthy of all of this. That only the mercy and goodness of God would offer such a thing. That God truly is love, and that He wants no one to perish, but that everybody should have eternal life. And then you humbly stretch out your hand, so to speak, and you say, “God, if You love me this much, if You are willing to forgive me, Jesus, if You suffered so much, just to pay for my sin, and You offer me forgiveness and eternal life, I receive it. I receive You; I believe You, please come into my life. Please clean away all of my guilt and take away my suffering and my agony and give me the assurance that I’m Your child, and that I have eternal life.” And that’s the decision that an individual has to make. You personally have to say, “God, I am unworthy. I have broken the moral law. I don’t deserve Your mercy. For all of my arguing, I admit that I am a sinner, that I’ve done wrong. Now, God, forgive me.” And the moment you say that, then all you have to say is, “Lord Jesus, come into my life. Forgive my sin. Show me Your reality. Give me eternal life. Give me Your spirit, and I’m Yours forever.” And at that moment, you become a child of God. You enter the kingdom of God. And in your heart, you have the utter assurance that you have eternal life.
Matthew 11:28 (NKJV)
[Jesus said,] “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
This completes “Ten Reasons to Believe in a God Who Allows Suffering.”
1. Suffering comes with the freedom to choose.
2. Suffering reveals what is in our hearts.
3. Suffering takes us to the edge of eternity.
4. God can turn suffering around for our good.
5. Pain can warn us of danger.
6. In times of crisis, we find one another.
7. Suffering gives opportunity to trust God.
8. Pain loosens our grip on this life.
9. God suffers with us in our suffering.
10. God’s comfort is greater than our suffering.