Every one of the good reasons I wrote about in my book decades ago are meant to point us to our kind and loving God. Because of Jesus Christ, he picks us up, holds us close, and assures us that everything is going to be okay. Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us in our suffering. He says in Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” I’ve experienced God’s comfort in this way. I cannot begin to describe the sweetness of my Savior’s presence when I feel the crunch of my affliction. Suffering, like nothing else, has shown me the goodness of the Father. Oh, I hope you’ll take the time to view this video where I talk about my book Songs of Suffering and all I’ve gained in my suffering.
Decades ago, when I was still young in my wheelchair, I was excited about all the things I was learning about God
The more I learned about him, the more I wanted to pass the insights on to other people who were struggling through hardships. I even wrote a book about it, listing reason after reason as to “why God allows suffering.” I detailed as many spiritual benefits from suffering as I could think of: how it refines our faith, develops self-control, exposes sin, makes us dependent on God, teaches us to follow the Word, helps us empathize with other hurting people, binds Christians together, and fosters humility. And that’s just scratching the surface.
Now, these are all true and good benefits of suffering, but years later when I started to struggle with chronic pain—and later, battled cancer— the overwhelming weight of my suffering seemed to far exceed any benefit that might result.
To make sense of my suffering, I had to go a lot deeper and ask, “What good could possibly be worth overwhelming pain and agony?”
I’ll answer that question with an analogy: imagine that a little boy hops on his bicycle, races down a hill, and at the bottom when he turns the corner, he loses control on loose gravel and crashes to the asphalt. His knee begins to bleed, and his wailing alerts his father. What would we think of his daddy if he came and stood over his son and listed all the reasons as to why the boy is hurting and bleeding?
What would we think if he said, “Now, son, your speed was excessive as you began the trajectory of your turn. The loose gravel has accumulated here because of the rains. Your knees weren’t protected by knee pads.”