Walter Kaiser provides eight reasons we suffer from the culmination of his work on this topic: Kaiser, Walter C., Jr. Grief and Pain in the Plan of God: Christian Assurance and the Message of Lamentations. Fearn, UK: Christian Focus Publications, 2004 (127-36). I’ve condensed the discussion below:
- Sometimes our suffering is result of judgment we deserve. If we choose evil, it leads to suffering.
- Suffering is a form of correction. (See Hebrews 12.7)
- Often prophets in the Old testament suffered not particularly for their own sins and rebellion but for the people. Jesus fulfilled the role of the Suffering Servant completely. He suffered for us not for Himself. (See Isaiah 53.5)
- But there is suffering not only for people but with people. God suffers with us: “In all their affliction He was afflicted” (Isaiah 63.9).
- We also suffer for the glory of God. Joseph’s life is an illustration of this. “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Gen 50.20).
- Enduring suffering is a powerful testimony to the faithfulness of God (e.g., “Consider My servant, Job”).
- Suffering can drive us to newer understanding of God. Hosea suffered greatly because of his unfaithful wife. Yet he still loved her. What Hosea went through gives us a greater understanding of not only God’s love for Israel; but God’s love for us.
- Eschatological: Even the Tribulation will be filled with immense suffering. But just when things are at their darkest and all are despairing in Jerusalem once more, Jesus will come and reign!
Suffering is complicated, but it can be simplified when one remembers that the unchanging God is always good and great is His faithfulness!