How God Uses Suffering

god where are you

Recently, I posted about my experience with major back pain, brought on by herniated discs, and the 5 Marks of Suffering that I learned about from an excellent book by Tim Keller, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering. Keller’s overview of how God uses suffering in our lives was inspiring. As someone called to help people love their families well, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share his insights with you.

The loneliness of suffering can cause one to wonder, “God where are You?” Tim Keller’s Walking with God through Pain and Suffering eloquently shows how God uses suffering in our lives. Here are Keller’s insightful, inspiring and hope-filled thoughts on how God uses suffering.

1. “Suffering transforms our attitude toward ourselves.”

We like to think we can control others, and control the world around us. But we have a hard enough time controlling our own hearts. Keller points out that suffering shatters our illusions of control, “as it shows us we have always been vulnerable and dependent on God.” As we confront this, we see with more clarity through our own pain and introspection, how fragile and out of control we really are.

2. “Suffering will profoundly change our relationship to the good things in our lives.”

Pain has a way of clearing the decks, of helping us reorder our priorities. As I battled that back pain, I became more laser-focused on what was most important and what I really needed to focus on each and every day of my life. I even wrote down on a piece of paper that I have in front of me on my desk every day “Every moment matters.” I want to be wise in how I use the time God has given me on this earth. I want to love God, love my family, and love others well!

3. “Suffering can strengthen our relationship to God as nothing else can.”

Keller notes, “Suffering reveals the impurities or perhaps the falseness of our faith in God…and therefore, it is only in suffering that our love relationship with God can become more and more genuine.”  Through pain, we become more dependent, or maybe more aware of the dependence we’ve always had, on God. The “dry and painful” prayers of suffering can lead to deeper faith and joy in the One who created us.

4. “Suffering is almost a prerequisite if we are going to be of much use to other people.”

As I have posted before and wrote about in the book, All Pro Dad, pain can be turned positive by giving you a future message of hope to others. Keller eloquently paints the picture of how this happens when he notes that “Before when we saw others in grief, we may have secretly wondered what all the blubbering was about…. then it comes to us—and ever after, we understand.” Suffering helps us be empathetic and compassionate.  Suffering drives us to God, who, in turn, sends us out to others with an experiential message of truth, love, and hope.

How has God used your pain and suffering? Please share your story with us below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Madeleine Fisher

    Thank you for this excellent summary of the good that comes out of suffering. Thru my 68 years there have been many times of suffering— physically, emotionally, socially, family, spiritually,……..God was always with me and led me to comfort, and help. I grow much more from the times of suffering and I have learned how to be a better listener and comforter to others who are suffering. I have learned how to trust and depend more on God from the times of suffering….

  • A!

    My pain and suffering has brought me to appreciate Jesus and what he suffered for me because of the fathers will, but has also made me much less fond of the Father for withholding his enablement and fulfillment of promises and I figure this is just the way it is whether I like it or not. Point three above…I DO NOT experience joy, I experience frustration and have to fight hopelessness because most of my pain and suffering is brought on by not being able to have the understanding that God has for why anything HAS to be the way it is. I find myself holding God responsible for anything I’m not doing right, because I do, in fact, believe I can only do good things through Him, so if He doesn’t enable me, I’m not taking the fall for being a lousy Christian. If I grow bitter, that’s on Him, too, because I give myself to Him every day to enable me to do as He wills, but He made me this way, He made us limited and unable to do anything good without His power and so I lay it at the foot of the cross and accept His salvation, and He can take it from there. Sure suffering points out how you can’t control anything….but I get that message and am waiting for Him to get a grip on my life and start controlling it for me…and if this is what he wants for me, I have nothing to say about it except that I’m not real fond of it and I do not consider it pure joy to suffer trials because it is perfecting me, because He doesn’t enable me to see or experience or give back with any perfected state of mine. I’ve been suffering from the same problem for my entire married life and I am not given His wisdom to understand what the point of wasting my life in this condition has been. So, being ever full
    of faith, hope and love for others and Jesus, I endure the Fathers ways and will and hope He comes through at least in the afterlife if not here and now.