Why Sufferings And Trials?

“‘For man is born for trouble, as sparks fly upward’” (Job 5:7).

Because they are sinners, still living in a sinful world, Christians should expect to encounter difficulties.

“It all depends on how you look at it.” That may be a cliché, but it is very applicable for believers as they deal with trials and sufferings. Any trial can be a joyous experience for a Christian if he looks at it from the proper, biblical perspective. Or, as with Jonah (Jonah 4) and Elijah (1 Kings 19:1-14), trials can be frustrating times of self-pity if believers lose their focus on what God is doing.

For some of us, the first hurdle to overcome is the very notion that trials and sufferings will be a part of the Christian life. But Job 5:7 reminds us that trouble is inevitable. If we imagine an ideal world where everything is just right all the time for believers, we are setting ourselves up for profound disappointment. Jesus Himself tells us we must expect significant difficulties in our lives: “In the world you have tribulation” (John 16:33).

All of us, to a greater or lesser extent, need to be prepared for testings and tribulations. And these troubles will be different for each of us. For some, the trial might be a financial crisis, accompanied by the loss of personal savings or investments. For some, it could be the loss of employment, with the anxiety of not being able to find another job anytime soon. Perhaps for others, the severe trial will be a serious illness or injury in their family, a fatal car accident, or being devastated by a major crime like murder or burglary.

In God’s purpose and plan, trials and sufferings are real and should not catch us by surprise or leave us angry and perplexed. If we recognize the Lord’s sovereign role in all these things, we will be able to affirm these words from an old hymn:

Whate’er my God ordains is right: 
Holy His will abideth; 
I will be still whate’er He doth, 
And follow where He guideth.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Ask God for wisdom to better understand and accept the truth that He is sovereign over all areas of life.
  • Pray for a friend or family member who might be currently in the midst of a trial.

For Further Study

Read 1 Kings 19:1-14.

  • Who and what did Elijah focus on more than God?
  • What events from chapter 18 did the prophet quickly forget?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997.