Does Suffering Always Make Sense?

Does suffering always make sense?

Certainly it doesn't make sense to us, no. But it does make sense to God. Therefore it is not irrational or ultimately absurd.

Our perspective is not God's perspective. We don't have the sight he has. There are numerous analogies of this. The one I like best, I think, is of the carpet. This one was used, I believe, by Corrie ten Boom, who suffered much as a person during World War II when she was imprisoned for helping Jewish people.

She said the suffering of the world is like looking at the bottom of a tapestry. God is weaving it from the top down, and he sees the picture developing. We're looking at it from the bottom up, and we're seeing all of these tangled threads. It doesn't look like it's making any sense at all, but it's the same tapestry.

In the Bible God gives us enough evidence of his wisdom as a tapestry maker, enough glimpses of the big picture of the tapestry, and enough promises that he is going to make all the threads of our lives beautiful that, even when we can only see the bottom from time to time, we can trust him. And that's what we do in trouble.

We don't have to understand our own or another's suffering to the extent that we understand why it happened now, to this degree, and with these effects. We can't see all of that. What we can see are the promises, "I will work all things together for your good," and "I will magnify my grace in your weakness." God has given us enough in the Bible to know that there is a tapestry up there that I am a part of and that it's going to be beautiful. I'm going to hang on to him.

Would you pray for the person who is wrestling with suffering right now?

Amen. Let's pray.

Father, I pray with the apostle Paul that you would grant everyone listening to me right now to be strengthened in the inner man, according to the riches of your glory, through your Spirit. I pray that Christ would dwell in their hearts by faith, and that they would be rooted and grounded in love. I pray that they would have power, spiritual power, with all the saints to comprehend what is the height, depth, length and breadth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, right in the midst of their suffering.

I pray that Christ would be a treasure to them, that he would be their hope, their strength, and their joy. Lord, make Jesus so real, so powerful, so deep, so authentic, so unshakably sure, that they would not waiver in unbelief as they deal with the pain in their lives.

O Lord, give sustaining grace.

Not grace to bar what is not bliss,
Nor flight from all distress, but this:
The grace that orders our trouble and pain,
And then, in the darkness, is there to sustain.

Sustain everyone, Lord, by your grace as they cast themselves on you.

In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.