Dealing with Suffering

Part 1


Today we will be taking a look at suffering. When we suffer, it can cause us great mental anguish and it is never easy to deal with. So, I am not suggesting in this lesson that we come become immune to the affects of suffering. However, I am confident, that we can learn how to deal with suffering in such a way that we can grow from it, instead of letting it defeat us.


Sometimes the best way to grow as person is to attend the school hard knocks. Nobody enjoys that school, but those who make it through it will find out what they are made of and it will cause them to become a stronger person because of it.


A man by the name of Robert Hamilton put it this way:


I walked a mile with Pleasure;

She chatted all the way,

But left me none the wiser

For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow

And ne’er a word said she;

But oh, the things I learned from her

When Sorrow walked with me.


We need to understand that all of us are going to experience suffering in our life in one form or another, so we need to be ready for it. We need to have the mindset that we are going use our suffering as learning experience and not something to drown in. We must never forget that God will always be there to throw us a life preserver if we simply allow Him to pull us out of the depths of despair.


Those known as Atheist sometimes like to say if we had a loving God that we would not have suffering, but what they do not realize is that a loving God would not have given us a free will and would take control of everything in our life so that mindless robots. Since God loves us and allows us to choose what we do and He allows us to live life it not only includes good time, but also bad times. Many times the suffering we experience comes from us making bad choices, when that happens it is not God fault. Even with suffering comes from an accident or something that happens naturally, we must understand that these kind of things are going to happen because life itself is not a bed of roses.


In this 2 part lesson I want to give you 10 ways in which suffering can benefit us. When we consider these 10 points and have the right attitude toward suffering, it will help to learn deal with it.


  1. Suffering points out that we are frail human beings and not gods.


Sometimes people develop the attitude that they are a god and they are not accountable to anyone else higher them. But when they begin to suffer, they begin to realize just how weak and un-god like they are. Pain can humble a person and knock the haughtiness right out of them. A good example of this come from King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4.


King Nebuchadnezzar was one these men that though to highly of himself. In Daniel 4 he has a vision and he wants Daniel to explain it to him. This is what Daniel says:


Daniel 4:19 Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonished for a time, and his thoughts troubled him. So the king spoke, and said, "Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its interpretation trouble you." Belteshazzar answered and said, "My lord, may the dream concern those who hate you, and its interpretation concern your enemies!  20 The tree that you saw, which grew and became strong, whose height reached to the heavens and which could be seen by all the earth,  21 whose leaves were lovely and its fruit abundant, in which was food for all, under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and in whose branches the birds of the heaven had their home --  22 it is you, O king, who have grown and become strong; for your greatness has grown and reaches to the heavens, and your dominion to the end of the earth.  23 And inasmuch as the king saw a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, 'Chop down the tree and destroy it, but leave its stump and roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze in the tender grass of the field; let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let him graze with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him';  24 this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king:  25 They shall drive you from men, your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you eat grass like oxen. They shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.  26 And inasmuch as they gave the command to leave the stump and roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be assured to you, after you come to know that Heaven rules.  27 Therefore, O king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity."


Just as Daniel said, this happened to the King and it humbled him.


Daniel 4:28 All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar.  29 At the end of the twelve months he was walking about the royal palace of Babylon.  30 The king spoke, saying, "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?"  31 While the word was still in the king's mouth, a voice fell from heaven: "King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you!  32 And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses."  33 That very hour the word was fulfilled concerning Nebuchadnezzar; he was driven from men and ate grass like oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles' feathers and his nails like birds' claws.  34 ¶ And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom is from generation to generation.  35 All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, "What have You done?"  36 At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my honor and splendor returned to me. My counselors and nobles resorted to me, I was restored to my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added to me.  37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down.


This example speaks for itself because the suffering this mighty king experienced knocked the haughtiness right out of him and made him realize how weak he really was and it let him know who is control. When we suffer because of poor choices we made, it will be a sore reminder of frail we are and our dependence on God almighty. In this sense, suffering can humble us and put us back in our place so that we can see more clearly the error of our ways and our need to serve our God.


  1. Suffering can bring us closer to God.


When we are in state of anguish that no pill can cure, most will turn to a higher source for relief. Only those who are too stubborn and prideful will not allow themselves to seek out a higher source. As Christian we need to remind ourselves that our God is God a comfort. As Paul says:


2 Corinthians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,  4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.


Suffering is a wakeup call to let us know that we need God in our life. If we are out of duty, suffering is good and causing us to return back to God. The prodigal son in Luke 15 is a good example of this. He was raised in His father’s house, which represents the church. The father allowed his son to leave the protection of his house, which shows our free will to serve God or not serve Him. We all know how the parable goes. The son goes off and wastes all the money that was given him as he lived his life for himself. Then he begins to suffer. His suffering reminded him of his father and how his father and his home was the true source of happiness and comfort, so he went back to his father who took met him on the way and accepted him back as a son.


Of course this shows that in time of suffering especially if we have been unfaithful to God, that we can go back to Him for strength and comfort and remember that He is the source of comfort and strength. We must learn to remain with Him and not leave Him again.


Many people have allowed there suffering to lead them back to Lord. In my short life I have seen people that used to be faithful Christians suffer from illness or from a death a loved one and it caused them to open their eyes to their condition. Many have returned back to God because they allowed suffering to teach them the valuable lesson that life on this earth is short, but where we spend eternity is forever. So, let always use suffering to draw closer to God.


  1. Suffering can help us see the ugliness of sin and it consequences more clearly.


The Bible clearly teaches that our planet has been heir to suffering because of sin. Paul affirms this in:


Romans 5:12  Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned –


In beginning, when there was just Adam and Eve sin was waiting on the other side of the door. God put it this way to Cain:


Genesis 4:7 "If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it."


Unfortunately, Eve and then Adam opened that door when the broke God command not to eat from that one tree. Once that door was opened, all the consequences of sin have been plaguing us and of course physical death awaits all of us because of what Adam and Eve did.


When we suffer because of sin, we should let it remind us of how horrible sin is and the terrible consequences it has. It we should allow this to us motivate us take care of the sin in our life and too keep it out of our lives because price of sin is too high. We can rejoice in our suffering knowing that we if draw near to God that He will draw near to us and help us through our suffering.


In the story of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man finds himself in place of suffering after he dies. It was too late for him because he had not lived his life in way that was pleasing to God, but when his suffering motivated him to plead with Abraham to send someone back to warn his brothers that were still living. Of course, that was not going to happen, but the point is one way or another, suffering is going to show the ugliness of sin in one form or another, but let us not wait to long like the rich man to allow suffering to open our eyes to ugliness and consequence of our sins.


  1. Suffering helps us to appreciate the small things of life.


When a person begins to suffer intensely, there misery they go through changes them. All of has experienced this in one degree or another. When have had the flu or some virus that made you feel horrible and made you wished you could be knocked out until it was over it has made all of us really appreciate it when we do not have a sickness. After we recovered from such sickness, we feel on the top of the world. It is not that we feel better, than we have before, it is because our suffering made aware of how blessed we are when our heath is good and things are going well.


When we come out of suffering, colors seem brighter, the sun more brilliant. The little things that we like to grip about do not seem that important and life feels grand. As the poet John Dryden wrote:


We, by our suff’rings, learn to prize our bliss.  


Christopher Reeve who played Superman realized he was not Superman when fell and became paralyzed. After this tragic fall, Reeves has said that his accident had given him a new zest in many areas of life. Suffering has a way of giving us a clearly vision of what really important in life. So, let use our moments of suffering to realize how good we have it when we feel good and lets use those good times to glorify our God in heaven and let us be thankful knowing that if we live our lives for God that we will get to go to that wonderful place called heaven where there will be no more suffering.


  1. Suffering will teach us to be compassionate.


There is saying, “Do not judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes” but there is also another saying, “One cannot effectively comfort until he has lain in the bed of suffering.”


The idea behind this is that we cannot fully understand what someone is going through unless we have suffered the same thing or something similar. We can certainly be sympathetic for someone that has suffered what we have not, but when you experience the same pain as someone else it will teach you to be more compassionate for someone who is experiencing the same suffering and it also make you the most qualified to help that person with their suffering.


Let me give you an example. Some of you have experienced kidney stones. I have known so many people that have had them a cringe at the thought of them. While I feel sympathy for them and can see their pain, I cannot fully understand or have as compassionate as someone that has had kidney stones because I have never had them and hope I never get them. There are a lot things like this in life that suffering teaches to have compassion when before we had none because we had never really thought much about that suffering until we experienced it.


This is one of the things I love about Jesus and what He did for us when He came to the earth. He came to walk in mile in our shoes and He laid in our bed of suffering, which is why is qualified to understand us and come to our aid as:



Hebrews 2:17  Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.  18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted. 


So far in our lesson we have learned that we will all suffer in one form or another. Nothing is going to the pain of suffering away, but we can learn out deal with and learn from. When we have the right attitude when suffering comes our way, we can reap the benefits from and use it draw closer to God and make us appreciate what we have we are not suffering. I hope you join us tonight as we look 5 more benefits to suffering that will help us to learn to deal with suffering.


This lesson is adapted from Wayne Jackson’s excellent book “The Bible And Mental Health”

































Dealing with Suffering

Part 2


The morning we looked at 5 different benefits to suffering that will help us to deal with suffering.


  1. Suffering points out that we are frail human beings and not gods.
  2. Suffering can bring us closer to God.
  3. Suffering can help us see the ugliness of sin and it consequences more clearly.
  4. Suffering helps us to appreciate the small things of life.
  5. Suffering will teach us to be compassionate.


This evening we will examine 5 more benefits to suffering that will help us as we deal with suffering in our lives.


  1. Suffering sharpens our awareness that this earth is not our permanent home.


Peter said:


1 Peter 2:11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul,  12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.


Peter was encouraging these Christians that were being persecuted to give it to fleshly lust, but to continue in good words so that whey the are persecuted and spoken against be evil doers that they will exonerated by their good works. To help encourage them to do that he reminds that the sojourners on this earth because is not the permanent home. Even the patriarchs understood this idea as we read in:


Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.  14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.  15 And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.  16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.


Paul also reminds of this great lesson in:


Romans 8:18  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.


When suffer in this life, we can use it to remind ourselves of the beautiful place called heaven that will be our eternal home. The suffering we face today, does not even come close to the glory we shall have when we journey to our eternal home in heaven.


Again Paul, expresses it this way:


2 Corinthians 5:1 For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven,  3 if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked.  4 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.  5 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.  6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord.  7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.  8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.


Keeping this in mind as we suffer not only helps appreciate what we will have to look forward to, but it will help us to press forward and endure the suffering we are going through. As Henry Ward Beecher once said:


“God washes the eyes with tears until they can behold the invisible land where tears shall come no more.”


  1. Suffering motivates us to pray.


Even an atheist will sometimes turn a higher power when they began to suffer in the hopes they can find relief from their pain. While every Christian should have active prayer life, suffering will drop a Christian to their knees in prayer faster than anything else.


One of the benefits of suffering, it causes us to remember the importance and power of prayer. Jesus said:


Luke 18:1 Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart,


It is comforting to know when we pray to God that He is listening and He cares for us. David wrote:


Psalm 55:22 Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you;


Peter said:


1 Peter 5:6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,  7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.


Paul adds this thought:

Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;  7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.


Let use our suffering to remind us of the wonderful privilege we have to speak to our Father in heaven and turn all our burdens over to Him knowing that He is listening and working in our lives.


When we pray during a time when we are suffering, it teaches us how to pray more earnestly. We can see this from our master example, Jesus. When Jesus was suffering in garden with the weight of the world on His shoulders we read:


Luke 22:44 And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.


There is a medical condition that causes some people under great stress or suffering that will cause them sweat blood. In this great agony Jesus was under, we read that he prayed more earnestly or more intently. Our suffering will teach us to do the same.


As one song suggests:


Pray when you’re happy;

Pray when in sorrow.


As Christians we should pray all the time no matter what our mood, but one thing is for sure; when you pray at the time of suffering, you will pray as you have never prayed before. Let use suffering to remind us of the importance and privilege of prayer.


  1. Suffering tempers the soul and helps prepare it for eternity.


Peter writes:


1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,  5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,  7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,  


Just as precious metals are purified by the heat of the fire, the trials that we suffer through especially those things we suffer for the cause of Christ will help strengthen and purify our souls. Developing a Christ like character does not happen accidently, it must be learned from living your life for God. Out of the fires of suffering, the human spirit can come out as precious as gold or and as strong as steel as lone we allow our faith in God to help us through those difficult times. 


I think about the example of the early church when Saul was wreaking havoc on the church. When these Christians were tested by fire of suffering, they emerged out of it by scattering to other areas and boldly proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. As the saying goes, whatever does not kill, makes you stronger.


Job, is also good example of a man who went through great suffering and had endure more than any of us. Thought he is suffering caused him to be weak at times overall he kept his faith in God and we know in the end that he emerged out his fiery trial even blessed than before.


James 5:11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord -- that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.


When we consider the examples of suffering in the Bible and the end results, it will help us to deal with suffering and help us be prepared for eternity.


  1. Suffering brings out the best in people.


Most people cannot stand to see someone suffering, and they will do things they normally would not do if no one suffering. We have all seen many examples of this natural response in the last year or two. For example the tornado that ripped through our town caused many to act right away to help with the suffering. In fact, there was so many volunteers, many had to go back home without getting to help. People were kind to one another, their neighbors. None of things happened before the suffering, but as I said suffering brings out the best in people.


Of course I could mention the tremendous response in Haiti and I am sure many great things are being done in response to those in Chili. So, when we find ourselves responding to those that are suffering, let us allow that time of suffering to remind us that we can show that same kind of compassion and concern for others when there is no suffering.


We should certainly keep in mind that those who do not live their life for God, will be suffering for eternity, so we need to look for those opportunities to do good that we might lead someone to Christ as we glorify him with our good works. As Jesus said:


Matthew 5:14 "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  15 "Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  16 "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.


Lets us have the same attitude as Paul states in:


2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.  11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men;


  1. Suffering separates the shallow from the stable.


Christians who love God and put their trust in Him will grow from suffering, but those who are not that committed to God will allow suffering to separate them from God. Notice what Paul says in:


1 Corinthians 3:11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,  13 each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is.  14 If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.  15 If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.


Here you have two different kind of people being described as being part of the church. You have those who have foundation of gold, silver and precious stones. A foundation built with these will last and can stand the test of fire, but these foundation built with wood, hay, or straw will not stand the test of fire. Those who have build their foundation with wood, hay, or straw and the kind of Christians who get burned up in the fiery test suffering.


Jesus describes this kind of Christian as the one that sprang up in stony soil.


Matthew 13:20 "But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy;  21 "yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.


It is a shame that some will be like those in John 6 that will follow Jesus no more when things get tough, but that is one thing that suffering will bring out. My hope and desire is that none of us will ever allow suffering to cause us turn from God because He is sustainer of life and He can help us endure if we allow Him.


While no one should actively seek to suffer, we must understand that suffering will occur and if we approach it with the right attitude and understand the many benefits that can be gained from it, It will help us to learn to deal with suffering and make the best out of it so that we can emerge out of the fiery trials of suffering a stronger more stable Christian.

This lesson is adapted from Wayne Jackson’s excellent book “The Bible And Mental Health”