Many people believe that identifying as a Christian is reason enough to get a free pass from everything going awry in life. After all, they postulate, "God wouldn’t allow His children to be hurt or have to suffer."
This mindset couldn’t be more off - biblically speaking. In fact, most people that think this way have a thin theology, where they presume their thoughts are God’s thoughts or their ways should be God’s ways. Thin theology doesn’t hold the weight of how to manage life’s unexpected tragedies.
That’s why, as believers in a faithful God, we must develop a thick theology, meaning we may not have a "why" for the "what," but we can trust the "who" no matter "what." Knowing God is sovereign is knowing nothing can touch our lives without passing through the scarred hands of Jesus Christ, and those hands can be trusted. "My times are in Your hands" (Psalm 31:15).
I know that when we look at the Biblical issue of suffering, these concepts are difficult to understand and digest; however, because of the promises that are held within the pages of God’s Word, it is the precise truth that we can stand under when faced with suffering. From the suffering that is the consequence of our sinful hands to the suffering that exists from the echo of a fallen land, both are recycled and used in God’s redeeming plan.
Ask Moses about wandering in the wilderness, which ultimately led to a people learning dependence. Ask David about the suffering that he sinfully caused due to pride, but make sure you let him tell you about the resulting brokenness of heart that God didn’t despise. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart - These, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:17).
Ask Job about the unbelievable tragedies he faced, but make sure you stick around to hear about what makes up having an unbreakable faith - “I know my Redeemer lives!” (Job 19:25).
One more, for good measure - ask Paul and Silas how they were able to praise God through such abounding pressure. “But at midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25).
The harsh reality of the preceding case studies is that the pathway to blessedness must humbly pass through brokenness. When one surrenders their broken state into the hands of a sovereign God, the end result is victory and restoration. While the world may throw away what’s broken, God looks to pour into such vessels because they are finally open.
Not only is there beauty in brokenness, but there’s also divine purpose in suffering. Again, these biblical truths may be hard to swallow, but according to the paradox of the Gospel, joy is often produced through the vein of sorrow. To that end, when we look through the lens of the Word, we will begin to develop thick theology because “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).
Yes, this world is fallen and produces a cycle of suffering; however, greater than that is knowing our God is sovereign, and by Him, we see the recycling of suffering.
ED. NOTE: Maher is the teaching pastor at Coastal Christian Ocean City and is president of Soldiers For Faith Ministries. Social media and website: @TruthOverTrend.