After spending nearly all of my adult life as a pastor, the one question I may have gotten more than any other is, “why?”. The person asking the question has often experienced some sort of tragic suffering or is watching someone they love endure misery.
Oftentimes, there really is not a clear answer. The best course of action is often to be emotionally present, compassionate, empathetic, and to kindly redirect their focus from “why” something happened, to “how” they can use it to glorify God.
Jesus teaches us this very thing in John 9:1-3, “As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
There are at least four ways to glorify God in our suffering:
- If there is sin in our life that has contributed to our suffering we can glorify God by confessing it, repenting of it, and seeking to walk away from it.
- While we are suffering there is an opportunity to respond with love for God and godly character that serves as an encouraging testimony to other believers who learn by watching us suffer with honesty about the grief and hope in the Lord.
- Suffering provides us a unique opportunity to witness to non-Christians who know us and see our faith revealed in our suffering as we walk with the Lord through our sorrow.
- Suffering increases our ability to minister to others who are suffering by increasing our compassion, empathy, and understanding of what best ministers to a suffering person.
How have you seen someone suffer and glorify God in one of these ways? How can you better glorify God in your suffering?