Two questions for thought:
• “Does God want us to be happy?”
• “Does God want us to suffer?”
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF EVIL AND SUFFERING?
Goodness is that which meets the standard of God’s own character and fulfills His purpose in creation. In simple terms, evil is the absence of goodness. There are two forms of evil:
• Ethical evil = the act of rebellion against God’s moral order.
• Judgmental evil = discipline for that rebellion.
The purpose of evil IS evil. God is limited when it comes to evil. God can’t answer a nonsense question. Evil from our perspective is a profound mystery, but from God’s perspective — it doesn’t make sense. There is no purpose to evil.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF SUFFERING?
Suffering is a consequence of evil. First, the purpose of suffering is to discipline us for sin. (Heb12:5-8). Two commands to follow:
• Don’t take God’s discipline lightly.
• Don’t become discouraged.
• The Lord loves you.
• The Lord accepts you as His child.
Second, the purpose of suffering is to develop our character. (James 1:2-4) There are three aspects of character development:
• Joyfulness — best expressed with gratitude. Mother Teresa said, “The best way to show our gratitude to God and people is to accept everything with joy.”
THE PURPOSE OF EVIL & SUFFERING
What is the Purpose of Evil & Suffering
• Endurance — build spiritual muscles. Don’t let go, hang on, persevere.
• Perfection — put ballast and stability into your soul. Helen Keller said, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, success achieved.”
Third, the purpose of suffering is to proclaim the gospel. (John 11:23-27, 45).
Suffering often brings unbelievers to belief, by turning knowledge into faith. Suffering often encourages the timid to speak boldly about Christ (Phil 1:12-14). Suffering offers an eternal perspective that transcends our temporal vision. (Romans 8:18). Suffering of present is nothing compared to the glory to be revealed.
Fourth, the purpose of suffering is to deliver divine mercy. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) God gives us comfort through Christ so we can comfort others who are suffering.
Fifth, the purpose of suffering is to demonstrate God’s glory. (John 11:4)
Whatever glorifies God is good for us because God is good and wants good for our lives. When we suffer and receive God’s glory — we shut the mouth of Satan.
DOES GOD WANT US TO SUFFER?
DOES HE WANT US TO BE HAPPY?
God wants us to suffer so that we might be happy! The purpose of suffering is happiness — the painful process of making us good. Happiness is goodness. God uses suffering to make us good, more like Christ, and share in His holiness. (Hebrews 12:10-11, Romans 8:28-29)
So remember these things when you’re suffering:
• Plead guilty if your suffering is discipline for sin. (1 John 1:9)
• Persevere if your suffering is for the development of character. (Romans 5:3-4)
• Proclaim if your suffering is for declaration of the gospel. (Luke 21:13)
• Pronounce comfort if your suffering is for the delivery of mercy. (Zechariah 7:9)
• Peacefully submit if your suffering is for the demonstration of God’s glory. (Micah 6:8, 1 Peter 5:6)
Nourish your soul in the midst of suffering. The purpose of God is goodness for you and me.
(Material is Copyright © 2009 by Derrick G. Jeter. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.)