Why do people have to suffer? Do some people simply have bad luck or is there a good reason why we suffer? Why do we all get sick, grow old, and die? And is all suffering really bad, or is it actually a blessing in disguise, somehow?
Here, I will outline some of the reasons why we suffer:
• Suffering strengthens and prepares us.
The trials and tribulations we face daily, some more often and severe than others, are exercise machines for our spirits. A sanitary person who has never experienced the cramps, aches, and sweat of exercise would likely be less strong and toned than those who exercise. Therefore, this person may have less energy and ability to perform certain physical feats when required in the future. On the other hand, those who regularly exercise would have the strength to face and overcome physical challenges when called for. Life is filled with challenges, and it is partly through suffering that strengthens and prepares us for tougher obstacles ahead.
• We learn through suffering.
If you tell a child who has never been burnt not to play with fire, do you think he will learn why? Sure, he would know that it will burn him, but if he has never felt the burning sensation, how would he truly know what being burned actually is? If he disobeys your command and touches a candle, do you think only then would he find out why you told him not to play with fire? You bet! Because of this experience, he learns to stay away from fire from now on.
The mistakes we make in life teach us not to repeat the same error again or show us how to deal with the same kind of situation should it come up again.
• We are disciplined when we suffer.
The same child who touches that candle has received discipline through his throbbing finger. His unpleasant experience tells him that he should not take your command too lightly the next time.
• Suffering can be a form of punishment for our bad actions.
Things that happen to us are often the effects of our actions. If a man robs a bank and was caught and sent to jail, his prison sentence will be the punishment brought by him upon his own head. We reap what we sow.
• Suffering draws us closer to Jehovah.
When we go through tough times and heartaches, we realize that our mere human strengths are simply not enough to protect us. It is then that we will call upon God for help and power to assist us in getting through the dark tunnel to the light. But friend, we must not wait till the day of trials and tribulations to call to God; we must do so daily to better prepare ourselves for any challenges and traumas ahead.
• We suffer because we are imperfect.
We all have inherited imperfection from the first pair of humans. We get ill, grow old and fall asleep in death. It is true that animals grow old and die, but they were made that way. They were not made with the spiritual capacity to know right from wrong, so they technically do not commit sins, and therefore, they did not inherit death. But for us humans, we were created in God's image. God never intended for humans to die. Our death is our own doing.
• Finally, and most importantly, we suffer for glory when we battle against evil.
Often enough, when we oppose the worldly desires, the world will mock, scorn, criticize, or hate us enough to end our lives. But know that the world hated Jesus Christ before it hated us, so we are in very good company, and therefore, we must not lose heart in fighting our battle against sin. We are glorified when we endure persecution for the sake of righteousness and godly causes. Remember, Jesus suffered greatly when he was impaled; he suffered for the sake of goodness, and we must do likewise. As a matter of fact, Christians are expected to suffer. Innocent suffering is a blessing to refine our faith so it can endure the roughest seas and highest peaks. Therefore, let us joyfully take up Jesus' pole on our path to glory. Let us be victors of suffering for our salvation and give the losing hand to Satan. Jesus suffered for us, and was glorified for us. Let us suffer for him, and be glorified for him and with him.
While suffering is not something everyone enjoys, it is, many times, necessary to help us in our spiritual growing process. I repeat: Innocent suffering is a blessing that refines our spirit, just as gold and silver are refined in fire.
It may be hard to feel that you are lucky when you suffer, but you are. I am lucky to realize that innocent suffering is not bad, though undesirable and uncomfortable. Do I enjoy being physically disabled and blind? Not at all. But being blind and disabled has taught me many lessons. For one, I am more compassionate and empathetic toward people with similar situations. I am able to better understand what others are going through. How much less compassionate I would be without my disabilities--that I do not know, but I believe I am more compassionate than if I had not gone through what I have gone through.
I also believe the loss of my eyesight is a divine turn of events. Why a divine turn?
If I had not lost my eyesight, I would not have become an author and motivational speaker to touch as many people as I possibly can to bring humor, hope, and healing, and above all, the Word of Jehovah God. I would have simply gone to college, gotten my degrees, become a scientist, and not bring the kind of spiritual food to others that far surpasses any other worldly achievements and influences. Simply put, God exchanged my eyesight with a new vision.
But please note: God does not cause us sickness, illnesses, etc. What He does do is to turn what is bad into good. Jehovah did not make me blind or disabled; He simply worked in me, to help me overcome these disabilities and use them for the betterment of not only myself but others around me.
Now that we understand why we suffer, your next biggest question may be: What about suffering inflicted by the bad guys? Why does God allow bad people to cause us harm? These are very good questions, whose answers will greatly help us cope with much of the injustice and darkness in this world. Find out the answers in my article, Where Did Evil Come From? Why Is Evil Permitted on Earth?
(Excerpted, with revisions, from Do You Love Jehovah? God Almighty's Infinite Love & Wisdom to Propel You To greatness by Shirley Cheng. © by Shirley Cheng; all rights reserved.)
Shirley Cheng (b. 1983), a blind and physically disabled award-winning author (with twenty book awards, including nine Parent to Parent Adding Wisdom Awards), motivational speaker, self-empowerment expert, poet, author of nine books (including "Do You Love Jehovah? God Almighty's Infinite Love & Wisdom to Propel You to Greatness"), contributor to eighteen, and a parental rights advocate, has had severe juvenile rheumatoid arthritis since infancy. Owing to years of hospitalization, she received no education until age eleven. Back then, she knew only her ABCs and very simple English; other than that, her book knowledge was non-existent. However, after only about 180 days of special education in elementary school, she mastered grade level in all areas and entered a regular sixth grade class in middle school. Unfortunately, Shirley lost her eyesight at the age of seventeen. After a successful eye surgery, she hopes to earn multiple science doctorates from Harvard University. Visit http://www.shirleycheng.com for more inspiration.