Suffering is a universal human experience. Whether physical, emotional, or spiritual, no one is exempt from the challenges and hardships that life can bring. For believers, finding meaning and purpose in suffering is an essential aspect of our faith journey.

Thankfully, the Bible is not silent on this issue. It provides valuable insights into the nature of suffering and its purpose for those who follow Christ.

In this blog post, we’ll explore what the Bible says about this topic and how it can be understood from a biblical perspective. But first…

How did Suffering Enter the World?

The Bible teaches that suffering entered the world as a consequence of sin. In Genesis 3, we see the story of Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden. The repercussions of Adam and Eve’s transgression were profound and far-reaching and have since had a cascading effect on all of humanity.

Romans 5:12 confirms this, saying, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.

With this inherited sinful nature, people continue to make choices that go against God’s moral standards, contributing to their own suffering and the suffering of others. This principle is vividly illustrated in the Book of Proverbs which provides valuable wisdom and guidance on the consequences of our choices.

A woman seated on the floor covering her face in anguish because of suffering.

Not only did Adam’s sin affect all of humanity, but the shadow of sin also extends across all of creation. Since the fall, the process of deterioration and corruption has been at work in the world as a whole. Creation reflects the reality of this decline and groans under the weight of suffering. This, we learn in Romans 8, which declares,

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. Romans 8:18-22 ESV

These verses underscore that the condition of corruption and suffering is not a result of creation’s own actions. Creation did not bring suffering upon itself. Rather, it was Adam’s sin that initiated this process, with God ultimately subjecting creation to suffering and groaning. Nonetheless, it was God’s sovereign will that allowed creation to assume this condition. Therefore, even in its suffering, creation remains subject to God and His overarching purposes.

It is with this in mind that I desire to offer you hope and comfort. Because while suffering came as a result of sin, it’s not beyond the realm of God’s control. He can redeem it and give a sense of purpose for the believer.

Romans 8:28-29 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

“All things” include those difficult and unpleasant aspects of life, which may even feel unbearable. Nothing falls outside of God’s control, and nothing operates against the ultimate good that God intends for His children.

In essence, “all things” are providentially orchestrated by God to work together harmoniously for His purpose and the good of those who love Him. This serves as a great reminder about God’s sovereignty and His ability to bring “good” out of even the most painful situations for His divine purposes.

In light of this, let’s see what the Bible has to say about suffering:

Suffering as a Test of Faith

Suffering often serves as a test of a believer’s faith and character. The apostle Peter acknowledges that, for a brief period, believers may endure various trials and tribulations. These trials are not without purpose though. Rather, they serve to test and refine their faith, which is more valuable than gold that perishes, even when purified by fire (1 Peter 1:3-7).

Some professing believers, when confronted with pain, may falter and deny their faith, revealing that it was not genuine to begin with, similar to the rocky soil in Jesus’ parable of the sower. These are the ones who receive the Word with initial joy but lack the faith required to endure when faced with trouble or persecution (Mark 4:16-17).

Conversely, there are those who, in moments of profound pain and upheaval, will grasp tightly to God rather than turn away from Him. In the book of Job, we witness a righteous man who endured unimaginable suffering. Despite this, Job did not lose his faith in God. If anything, it grew.

Job’s perseverance demonstrated the authenticity of His faith. Through the lens of Peter’s teachings, his story illustrates that suffering can be a means by which our faith is refined and strengthened.

It’s in this way that suffering serves as a litmus test that proves the genuineness of one’s belief in God. Just as gold is verified as genuine when it endures the refining process in fire, so does a Christian’s faith when they persevere through pain and suffering with an unwavering belief in Christ.

This is why James 1:2-4 encourages us to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

This truth should elicit hope and great rejoicing among Christians. When suffering proves the genuineness of a believer’s faith, it culminates in “praise, glory, and honor” when Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1:6-9).

“The best thing that can happen in your life as a believer is to have your faith tested. Because when it’s tested and it holds, this proves that its reality.”
John MacArthur

Suffering as a Way to Share in Christ’s Sufferings

Believers are called to share in the sufferings of Christ. One thing that Jesus made abundantly clear is that the world would hate His disciples because they hated Him first. Thus, following Him would include enduring persecution and suffering for His sake (John 15:20). And we see that the Apostles understood this well.

In his deep devotion, the apostle Paul expressed his desire to “know Christ and the power of his resurrection, and share in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Phil 3:10). This is in agreement with what the apostle Peter’s said in 1 Peter 4:13, “But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”

To share in ”Christ’s sufferings” signifies partaking in something deeply profound with our Lord. It implies that, through our suffering for His sake, we get to know Him at a more intimate level.

It’s almost as if the full depth of this intimacy can only become apparent when we go through suffering. Enduring suffering for the sake of Christ gives us an opportunity to identify with His suffering for our sake, providing us with a heightened sense of fellowship with Him.

In this way, suffering paradoxically becomes a pathway to a richer connection with Christ, enabling believers to experience a deeper communion with their Savior.

Suffering as a Means of God’s Discipline

God is much more concerned about shaping and molding us into the image of Christ than our comfort. Like a loving parent correcting their child, He employs various means to guide and discipline us, including pain and suffering.

Pain and suffering, while unpleasant, can serve as effective tools in molding our character. Suffering, in particular, has the ability to strip away our pride and self-sufficiency, revealing our genuine need for repentance.

The Bible reinforces this idea in passages such as Hebrews 12:6, which mentions that “The Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.“, and Proverbs 3:11-12, which encourages us not to despise the Lord’s discipline but to learn from it.

God’s use of pain and suffering to discipline us, is rooted in His loving desire for the repentance and spiritual growth of His children. God’s chastening and the trials we endure are ultimately for our good. These experiences, though difficult, are instrumental in shaping us into the children He intends us to be

Suffering as a Means of Spiritual Growth

The apostle Paul, who himself faced numerous hardships, wrote about the transformative power of suffering. In Romans 5:3-4, he says, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”

In the spiritual journey of a Christian, suffering plays a significant role as a tool that God utilizes to help them mature in godliness. This reality is beautifully articulated in the Bible, particularly in John 15:2, where Jesus speaks of God as a skilled gardener who prunes the branches to make them bear more fruit.

In a similar way, God allows His children to go through various trials and tribulations, not as a form of punishment but as a means of growth. 1 Peter 5:10 assures believers that after they have suffered for a little while, God Himself will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish them. Therefore, suffering isn’t meant to break Christians but to build them up, making them more steadfast in their faith and closer to God.

In addition to spiritual growth, God’s use of suffering also extends to how Christians interact with others. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 tells us that God comforts us in all our afflictions so that we can comfort others with the same comfort we have received.

The maturity gained through suffering, equips believers to be more empathetic and sensitive to the needs and struggles of others (Gal 6:2). It enables them to reach out in compassion and support, just as Jesus taught in Matthew 25:35-36 when He emphasized the importance of caring for the hungry, thirsty, and afflicted.

In summary, God’s purpose in allowing suffering in the lives of Christians is not to harm them but to nurture their spiritual growth, build their character, and instill in them the capacity for empathy and service to others.

So, as challenging as suffering may be, it’s not in vain. God uses it to nurture our spiritual growth, build our character, and instill in us the capacity for empathy and service to others.

“God matures His people. God glorifies His own name in us through suffering a lot more than we are prone to realize. He uses suffering to revive our hearts with grace.”
Joel Beeke

Suffering as an Opportunity for God’s Glory

God, at times, permits circumstances that may seem undeserved such as illness and disabilities to serve as platforms for the manifestation of His glorious works. An example of this can be found in the miraculous healing of a man who had been blind from birth, as recounted in John 9:1-3.

Jesus’ disciples asked if the man’s blindness was a result of his sin or his parents’ sin. He replied, “It was not that this man sinned or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:3).

Similarly, Lazarus’ illness was permitted “for the glory of God so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” As shown in John 11:1-4. when Lazarus eventually passed away, this circumstance provided Jesus with an opportunity to encourage the faith of Martha and those who were standing there. He declared, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40).

Both the story of Lazarus and the blind man illustrate that God can indeed use suffering for His glory. While we may not always comprehend the exact purpose behind our individual experiences of suffering, these examples serve as a reminder that God is sovereign and can work through adversity to bring about His purposes for our good and ultimately glorify Himself.

2 Corinthians asserts this saying,

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed 2 Corinthians 4:7-9 ESV

Suffering and the Promise of Eternal Life

For Christians, suffering is not the end of the story. Paul asserts that the afflictions faced by Christians are, in the grand scheme of things, “light and momentary.” Surprisingly, these trials serve a purpose, yielding not only greater joy but also eternal glory that far outweighs any temporary suffering endured.

He further encourages us to “look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

This perspective stands in stark contrast to a world consumed by comfort, pleasure, and success. It reminds us that our current life is just a part of the greater pilgrimage we’re on.

In this context, God uses trials and tribulations to help us release our tight grip on the fleeting pleasures of this world and to create in us a longing for the eternal home He has promised us by His grace.

Suffering, in this sense, serves as a tool to nurture within us a deep and fervent desire for a far superior home, one that surpasses all earthly comforts with a future that is free from troubles. As promised in the book of Revelation which says,

"He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." Revelation 21:4 ESV

Therefore, the suffering we encounter in this life, while undoubtedly difficult and at times agonizing, is ultimately temporary and purposeful. As Paul affirms “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Rom 8:18).

This perspective on suffering serves as a source of hope, resilience, and motivation in the Christian journey. It encourages believers to press on, knowing that their present trials are but a stepping stone toward an eternity of joy in the presence of God.

Suffering is to be Expected

We tend to shy away from suffering and do our best to evade it. Nevertheless, the Bible reminds believers that suffering is not an unusual occurrence:

"Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you". 1 Peter 4:12 NASB

Peter underscores the point that suffering for one’s faith is a common and normal experience for believers. It should not be seen as an anomaly. Nor should we be surprised when trials come. Rather, it’s something that you can anticipate and should consider a regular part of your journey as a follower of Christ.

I find this important to share especially today when many false teachers perpetuate the notion that the reality of suffering should be alien to the Christian life. If a Christian is experiencing trials and tribulation, they chock it up to a lack of faith, generational curses, demonic spirits, evil covenants, evil altars and what have you. As a result, many Christians do not have an accurate and biblically grounded perspective on suffering, But this is simply not true.

It’s noteworthy that in John 16:33, Jesus Himself acknowledges the inevitability of tribulation or suffering in the lives of His disciples. He doesn’t sugarcoat the challenges they will face but rather affirms that “In the world, you will have tribulation.” This acknowledgment aligns with Peter’s words.

However, He gives a profound encouragement in the latter part of that verse, where He declares, “But take heart, I have overcome the world.” This statement is a powerful reminder of the victory that believers have in Christ. It reassures them that, even in the midst of trials and tribulations, they can find hope and strength in the fact that Jesus has triumphed over sin, darkness, and all the suffering the world presents. His victory provides the foundation for the grace to endure.

“God will not protect you from anything that will make you like Jesus.”
Elisabeth Elliot


While suffering is a challenging and often painful aspect of life, the Bible offers a perspective that brings hope and purpose to believers. It reminds us that suffering is not without meaning. The very author of our salvation, Jesus Himself, endured suffering and emerged victorious over it (Heb 2:10; 1 Pe 3:18). The ultimate answer to the problem of suffering is found at the cross, where Jesus proclaimed, “It is finished” (John 19:30).

As we journey through our own trials while following Him, it’s important to remember that our suffering has a purpose, and it will ultimately come to an end. As we navigate the ups and downs of life, may we find comfort and strength in the wisdom and promises of Scripture.


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