Suffering is an unavoidable part of life. Everyone experiences it at some point—some more than others—and it can be challenging to make sense of it all. But what does the Bible say about suffering? How does it address our questions and offer comfort in times of need? Let’s explore how scripture speaks to our suffering and provides insight into why we experience hardship.
In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, King Solomon reflects on the cyclical nature of life and states that “there is a time for everything – a time to be born, a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot...”
The Bible acknowledges that suffering exists and affirms that it is a natural byproduct of living in a fallen world. In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, King Solomon reflects on the cyclical nature of life and states that “there is a time for everything – a time to be born, a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot...” The passage also mentions “a time to weep” and “a time to mourn”–both of which are integral parts of human existence. Scripture also records the painful experiences of Jesus--God incarnate--and His weeping and mourning over death and sin. The gospels then follow these events up with the immense suffering of Christ on our behalf. One benefit of His suffering is His ability to relate with ours. Jesus knows how brutal our hardships and trials can be. He empathizes with and cares about our difficulties.
So while God did not create suffering, He clearly acknowledges that it exists in this world. But God also ordains it for His glory and our ultimate good, which can be difficult to discern on this side of eternity.
The Bible also encourages us to seek comfort from God during rough times. In Isaiah 40:1-2, He speaks through the prophet Isaiah saying, “Comfort my people, says your God...Speak tenderly to Jerusalem...for her hard service has been completed…” Here God offers solace in His infinite love as we go through adversity and pain. This passage also reminds us that although our earthly struggles may seem interminable at times, one day, they will end—something for which we can all be grateful!
In addition to acknowledging suffering and offering comfort during trials, God's Word also teaches us how to respond to suffering. Romans 5:3-5 says, “we rejoice in our sufferings knowing that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” So rather than dwelling on our pain or becoming despondent when faced with trials and tribulations, we can give them to God as opportunities for growth. We can let the grace and goodness of God be the healing balm on our wounds. By learning from our hardships instead of denying, running from, or wallowing in them--we can emerge on the other side renewed with a greater understanding of ourselves and life itself, as defined by our Creator.
Romans 5:3-5 says, “we rejoice in our sufferings knowing that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope…”
All people will encounter suffering at some point in their lives—it is an unfortunate but inevitable aspect of living in this world. Thankfully, the Bible offers guidance and grace for enduring these times. It acknowledges that suffering exists while reminding us that there is hope beyond our current circumstances. God's Word also serves as a wonderful foundation for professional counseling and discipleship. Scripture and Christ-centered counselors encourage us to turn towards God for comfort and urge us to surrender our hardships as opportunities for change, rather than allowing them to define us. By doing so, we can find peace amidst chaos even when things seem their darkest. Psalm 23 says that God prepares a table for His people, even IN the midst of trouble. Note, it does not say that God removes our trouble and then prepares a feast. Suffering is painful but it is temporary and we are never alone in it. The grace and help we need is always available!
- Ben Sheppard, Marketing & Development