Why does God allow his children to suffer trials?

Why does God allow his children to suffer trials?

The question of personal suffering is relevant to all of us.  Either we are experiencing pain right now, have just emerged from a trial or we are about to enter one.  Suffering is universal.  Our reactions to suffering, however, are varied.  The first question that usually occurs to a victim of pain is “What is God doing to me?”  

The following answer to this question assumes that you are believer in Christ – that you are already saved – and that God has sent you a personal problem.  Another relevant question you may have is “Why does God allow pain and suffering to exist?

Job, the patient sufferer, tells us a few insights to answer the question of trials in the life of a believer.  

Job 23:10 “He knows the way that I take, and when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold”


Each of the words of this verse gives us insight into how God uses trials to work in our lives:

1. God knows

“He knows” – with those two words Job answers the unexplainable.  Without knowing the why or the where to source of his trials, Job knew that God was in control of the world and therefore in control of life’s trials. 

He knows you and the circumstances of your trial.  He sees your checkbook. He hears how your children talk to your. He knows how your husband drinks. He knows how your heart aches. He knows your confusion. He sees you when you lie awake at night. He sees all of the parts of your trial. You may feel abandoned and forgotten, but God knows what is happening. He is aware.  He knows.  Can you be comforted in your trial by simply knowing that God is not ignorant of your plight?

Job was content to wait for God to show him the outcome at some future point in time.  But for the meantime, he was satisfied to say “God knows”

2. He knows my way

God can see where I am going even if I can’t.  There is a destination to the way that I take.  I don’t know where this trial will end, but God does.  Can you take strength from the fact that when he is done, you will be better off spiritually than you were before.?

Job 23:14  For he will complete what he appoints for me, and many such things are in his mind.

3. When

There is usually a time limit to the duration of the trial.  It won’t last forever.  God’s work in you may take some time, but there will be and end.  He will put you on your knees. He will make you feel the weakness and frailty of your humanity.  Changing a person’s outlook through trials is a slow process.  So you ask, when will the trial end? Answer: When He has tried me.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peacable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11


4. He has tried me

Why does God have to try me?  Can’t he just leave me alone?  I haven’t sinned, so why is he trying me?  

Notice that Job uses the word “tried” instead of “punished”.  If you are trying to find a connection between your actions and your suffering, perhaps you are simply being tried.  Trials are different than consequences.

The following verse tells us of suffering because of a cause:

“But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 1 Peter 4


If you are in jail for your crimes, or divorced because of your drug addition, your suffering cannot be called a trial.  The people you hurt as a result of your actions are suffering trials.  But what you are suffering is called a consequence.  It is a result directly related to your bad decisions.  It is a consequence.  The solution for this kind of suffering is for you is to repent of your sin, ask forgiveness to those you have harmed, make restitution and pursue a different path.  

If however, you are suffering a trial, like Job, you are probably on your face before God searching in vain for why this has happened. 

Job’s cry – “I have done nothing wrong, but yet God is bringing me suffering.  He is TRYING me.”

Job 23:7  There an upright man could argue with him, and I would be acquitted forever by my judge.

To try something is to test it.  Trying a bridge by putting weight on it is not to cause it to collapse, but to prove that the bridge is capable of holding what the engineer intended.

Instead of asking yourself “why caused God to do this to me?” you should ask “what is God trying to show through me?”

God is the teacher and you are the student. This test is not so much about God finding out how much you can bear.  He already knows you better than you know yourself.  The test is about you finding out about you. When he is done, you will know more about the endurance of your faith, your weak points and what you can do for God in the future.

5. I shall come forth as gold

Job knew that he was being tested by God. Job received an “A” on his faith test.  Job learned at least three imporant concepts on his test.

 

1.    One thing he learned by trial is that God is good even if we experience things we think are bad.


“Naked I came into the world, and naked I will leave. God gave and God took away, blessed be the name of the Lord”

“Shall we not receive both good and evil from the Lord?”

Early on the story of Job, his wife came to a very different conclusion about these questions.

“Do you still retain your integrity? Curse God and die!”

She wanted to curse God.  Anger, hate and resentment were spilling out of her mouth.  She wanted it to end. Die. Get it over with now. She wanted to throw away all spiritual integrity. What is the point of faithfulness if this is what God does? She failed the test.

It’s the last thing we hear her say. She disappears from the story. Perhaps like some today, she left her husband for a variety of reasons: a bankruptcy, an illness, the loss of a child. In Job’s case, the scene closes with Job sitting in ashes, covered in sores and worst of all, alone.  She walked out.

Trials show how much control we give to the Holy Spirit. Perhaps Mrs. Job wasn’t even a believer.  Maybe her church taught her that being a believer would make her wealthy.  Perhaps she believed that God’s will for her was her happiness.  Believers shouldn’t get sick.  When “claiming” God’s promises for her failed.  

In Christ’s parable of the good seed and the four soils, one of the false believers pictured there was the shallow ground. The seed sown on the shallow ground sprouted.  It looked like it would take hold.  There was an initial interest, but it turned out to be false.  When persecutions arise, the plants wither and die.  No life and hence, no fruit.

However, Job shows the gold inside. He passed the test. He was real.

2.    A second lesson Job learned from his test is that we can’t see the future.  We must wait to see God’s hand even if there is complete darkness.

Job 23:17  yet I am not silenced because of the darkness, nor because thick darkness covers my face.

“I shall come forth” means that God is in control.  There is and end not only in regards to time but also in purpose.  God is working on us.

God showed the gold in Job.  In fact, Job’s life reflects God better after being refined.  The gold in his life was bright in chapter 1. He is a man of integrity. He prays daily for his children. He has respect from his peers for his sterling character. He honors God with his sacrifice.  In the end, he shows the same consistency, but with more wisdom and even greater blessing.

God didn’t promise Job any recompense for his suffering during the trial.  But the physical situation of Job was even better after the trial.  We may not come out of a trial as a rich man, but the lessons we learn from hard experiences are invaluable.  Although we wouldn’t want to repeat the trial, we wouldn’t want to have missed the experience.

3.    A third lesson Job learned is that God always has something to teach us no matter what our spiritual state is.


Job learned more about God in the trial than he knew before.  Job was a great man of God before the trial.  Even God says “there is no one like my servant Job.” In the closing chapters of the book, however, we see Job learning that he is “vile”. Why? Was God wrong in His assessment of Job?  No.  In comparison with all other men on the planet, Job was the highest example of godliness. But in comparison with the holiness of God in heaven, Job saw his true nature – sinful.  When he learns more about God and His holiness, Job comes out of the story looking better than ever.

Conclusion

Keep in mind the words from Job’s brilliant statement about trials:

“He knows the way that I take, and when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold”
 

Shad Sluiter