The Bible says that suffering should not take us by surprise - we live in a fallen world during restoration and redemption. But I've found in my years of counseling (and even in my own heart) that many Christians are unprepared for when suffering enters their door.
Over the next few weeks, I want to unpack three dangerous traps that believers commonly fall into during moments of suffering. I've adapted this material from my new curriculum, When Suffering Enters your Door.
In moments of suffering, it’s tempting to allow yourself to doubt the goodness of God. You'll reason with yourself that somehow, someway, this moment of suffering is evidence that God is less than who He has depicted Himself to be.
Suffering will tempt you to doubt God's goodness and kindness. Suffering will tempt you to doubt His faithfulness and love. Even though you may never speak this aloud, your theology will bring God into the court of your judgment and accuse Him of being unloving and unfaithful to His promises.
Here's why doubt is such a deadly trap: as soon as you begin to question the character of God, you'll quit running to Him for help because you don’t go for help to someone whom you no longer trust.
If you no longer believe that God is loving, faithful, and gracious, you won't run to Him for hope and peace. Instead, you'll seek out earthly saviors who will provide the supposed rest and comfort you think you need (this could be drugs, people, television, food, or a host of other numbing agents).
There are a host of Scripture verses that remind us that suffering is evidence of God's grace. Those can provide enough of a theological framework in which you can interpret your suffering. But sometimes, you won't find answers. In your lifetime, you may never know why God allowed it to enter your door.
Here's what you always need to remember: you can trust the character of God because He sent Jesus to die for you, even when you were still His opponent. You don't have to doubt the character of the Father because He gave His Son for your hardened heart.
In moments of suffering, don't run away from God in doubt. If you do, you risk missing out on the wonderful blessings of grace that He has made available. Even if those blessings are uncomfortable or even excruciatingly painful, you can run to the Father.
He proved His eternal love for you by sending Christ to hang on that bloody Cross.
Paul David Tripp
- What suffering are you experiencing? Who do you know who is suffering?
- What has God communicated about suffering? Search through Scripture to find verses that teach on the subject.
- Why is tempting to doubt the goodness of God in your specific suffering?
- How (apart from the Cross) has God proven to be faithful and loving to you in the past?
- What can you gain by running to God in moments of suffering? In the same way, what can you lose by running away from Him?