"It is good for me that I have been afflicted" (Psalm 119:71)
Our God loves us more than we could ever comprehend (John 3:16). God's people are not immune to suffering; in fact, the greatest of God's servants have suffered greatly (read the book of Job). While our God does not cause suffering, He does allow it. Let us also understand that there are benefits that come from the worst circumstances. Consider the following:
1. Appreciation of blessings. Even in the midst of pitiable conditions Jeremiah gave thanks for his hope and the Lord's mercies (Lam. 3:21-24). God has been and continues to be so good to us.
2. Tested and strengthened. James writes, "Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into divers temptations [trials]" and then explained why -- "Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience" (Jas. 1:2-3). When we go through trials, we can allow those things to push us away from God, or draw us nearer to Him. The choice is ours. When the Lord refused to remove Paul's thorn in the flesh, Paul then glorified in his infirmities saying "when I am weak, then am I strong" (2 Cor. 12:9, 10).
3. Sympathy, empathy for others. Our words to those who are suffering can sound very condescending and hollow if we do not know whereof we speak. We dare not say, "I know how you feel," if we really do not because we have never been through a similar circumstance. However, if we ourselves have been through like suffering, it can be very comforting to another for us to be able to identify with them.
4. Suffering brings humility. From a human standpoint, if there was ever a man who had a "right to complain," it was Job. Yet, after having begun to "question" his circumstances and been informed by God that He was in control, Job declared, "Therefore, have I uttered that which I understood not, things too wonderful for me, which I knew not" (Job 42:3). Job was truly humbled.
5. Suffering brings learning. David saw his affliction as a means of learning God's laws (Psalms 119:71). We, too, can learn many things about God as well as ourselves by going through trials and heartaches.
6. Suffering can cause one to long for Heaven. One man observed, "If things were perfect here on earth, we wouldn't have any desire to go to heaven." Paul contrasts our temporary, earthly existence with the eternal glory of Heaven (2 Cor. 4:16-5:2). Paul also declared, "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us" (Rom. 8:18).