UV 2119/10000 The Purpose of Suffering
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Psalm 23 v 4
David was affirming his faith in his Lord and God in the face of adversity. Death casts its foreshadow on life with sickness, injury, accidents, crimes, assaults, losses, failures, disappointments, regrets. The reason a loving God allows the alternation of the green pastures of pleasure and comfort to alternate with the valleys of suffering and pain is to test the consistency of our faith in good times and bad times. Life is like a chequer board of alternating squares of white and black. When we are on the white, we ought to prepare for the black and while we are on the black, prepare for the white.
Yet another reason the Lord allows suffering to overtake His beloved is to prove the reality of His love, power, grace, healing, deliverance, help, guidance, word and wisdom. As humans we tend to learn more from our seasons of suffering than from our seasons of enjoyment. Pain is often a more effective teacher of the lessons of life than pleasure and leisure. The challenges of life prompt us to draw closer and closer to the Lord. His presence is the greatest source of comfort and strength. When we are overshadowed by His presence, all troubles and sorrows tend to flee. We are restored to our erstwhile joy despite the loss, the suffering, the pain, the deprivation, the failure, the disappointment.
Human suffering is often a rod of correction of certain flaws in our character or nature. It is also a staff of protection from even greater harm. It warns us of greater dangers and disciplines us before it is too late. We do not approach the Lord out of fear that we will be beset with greater evil if we do not do so but out of trust that He knows what is happening in our lives and He will see us through. He will be with us through the thick and thin of it. Even though we walk through the river, He will not let it drown us. Even though we walk through the flames of a furnace, it will not harm us. Yes, we will face afflictions but these afflictions will turn out for our good from a longer term and eternal perspective. We should neither resent nor resist it. If our faith is not strong or complete, we would be bewildered and frustrated in the short term. This is when we hold onto our eternal hope that we will overcome the shadow of death even as Jesus did. Even the worst scenario can only cast a shadow on us for the presence of the Lord, His word and the hope we have in Christ will comfort us while it lasts and restore us after the storm is past.
Prateep V Philip