A Christian Teen’s Guide to Trusting God in Suffering
Discover what the Bible says about suffering, and how you can endure when things are going wrong.
Suffering is one of the biggest questions that Christians – and non-Christians – have about faith.
It’s very common for us to want answers to questions like, “Why doesn’t God get rid of suffering?” “Where did suffering come from?” and even “Doesn’t suffering prove there is no God?”
In this Christian Teen’s Guide to Trusting God in Suffering, we’re going to dig deep into what the Bible has to say about suffering, and then examine how we can keep trusting God even when things are going wrong.
What does the Bible say about suffering?
The Bible has some answers to our questions about suffering – but not all the answers. Let’s take a closer look.
Where does the Bible say suffering came from?
In an article for Fervr, Candice Colgan shed some light on this question.
“Although the origins of evil are unclear, the Bible tells us that when God created the world the devil was already at work to destroy the perfect work of His hands.
Genesis says that God attempted to protect humanity from evil by instructing Adam not to eat the fruit that would open his eyes to the distinction between good and evil (Gen 2:17). God informed Adam that if he ate the fruit he would “surely die.”
We all know how that story ends – with Adam and Eve choosing to eat the fruit and from then on becoming aware not only of the difference between goodness and evil, but also of the actions that may lead to one result or the other.
The story suggests that evil in our world does not exist because it was created or devised by God, rather it exists because Adam and Eve – and we as their descendants – made and continue to make choices that allow evil to exist.”
So while we don’t really know too much about the origins and role of the devil, we do know that the world is broken and suffering exists because of our sin.
What does the Bible say God is doing about suffering?
Suffering definitely isn’t a good thing, so it makes sense that we would want God to do something about it as soon as possible!
And the Bible tells us that God has done – and is doing – things about suffering.
In this article for Fervr, Andy Judd points out that “God is good and powerful and has a plan to deal with evil once and for all. Evil was not part of the world God made (Genesis 1:31). God is light, and in him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5). So darkness (evil and suffering) is incompatible with God – which means darkness has a very limited shelf life!
God has resolved once and for all to SMASH all evil and suffering. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Revelation 21:4).
God’s plan is to fix up the mess we’ve made, while still rescuing all of us who are responsible for it. This is where God’s plan gets amazing. How can he possibly deal with sin, but save sinners? The twist in the story is Jesus – he took responsibility for our mess, died in our place, and defeated death for us by rising again. He’s going to restore us, not destroy us!”
Why does the Bible say suffering is continuing?
If God has the power to deal with suffering, and will ultimately eliminate it entirely, why doesn’t he end it right now?
The most important reason is explained in 2 Peter 3:9:
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
When Jesus returns, that will be the end of suffering, but it will also be the end of this world and there will be no more opportunities for people to turn back to God in repentance. God is being patient – and that means we need to be patient too, knowing that his patience means salvation for more people.
Let’s get practical
So we know that suffering is our fault, but God has dealt with our sin through Jesus’ death, and ultimately will end suffering in his timing.
In the meantime, how do we cope with suffering when it strikes us?
Here are three important things you can do.
Remember that God understands your suffering
As Andy Judd points out, “If you think suffering is not how the world should be, then God agrees with you (or you agree with God!). God loves us, and he weeps over suffering – literally, when Jesus saw Martha and all Lazarus’ friends at his funeral he ‘burst into tears’ (John 11:35).
I take comfort in knowing that God feels our pain. Jesus was a “man of sorrows”, and “familiar with suffering”(Isaiah 53:3).”
Remember that God wants you to cry out to Him
When you are suffering, God doesn’t want you to sit in silence, frustration and anger. No! He wants to hear from you.
The Psalms in the Bible are full of people crying out to God, asking why and begging for his help. Take a look at the following Psalms to see how God welcomes us to cry out to him:
- Psalm 102
- Psalm 32
- Psalm 38
- Psalm 69
- Psalm 22
Remember that suffering can have positive outcomes
When you’re in the midst of a difficult time, it can be hard to think about the good that may come out of it. But as Deborah Spooner explains in this Fervr article, suffering can actually be a gift:
“The Word of God word gives us a counter-cultural perspective on suffering and shows us how we should deal with trouble.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:2-4).
Our culture thrives on messages of what we need to do to finally “make it” – to have a complete life, complete happiness, or complete joy – which is always right around the corner.
When things get better, when you work this out, when the next big break comes…
But the Bible has a polar opposite message: it’s in suffering that we are working hard towards completeness.
Maybe what we should focus on is not the suffering we’re experiencing but what the suffering is doing in us – making us mature, complete, and not lacking in anything as James tells us.
Next time suffering is getting you down, stop and remember the end goal: this suffering needs to work its course so that you may be continually maturing.”
Questions to think about
- What is your normal response to suffering? Do you think this is good or bad?
- Do you trust that God cares about your suffering? If not, why not?
- Read one of the Psalms suggested above, and take a close look at the language the Psalmist uses. Are you surprised at how honest they are with God? What can you learn from this?
- Reflect back on a period of suffering from your life. How might God have used that suffering to grow you?