One of the larger challenges hurled at Christianity and perhaps the most difficult is explaining the problem of suffering. If God is a God of love then how can he allow evil to continue in the world which He created? For many of us this is personal, not just philosophical. We have front row seats to the various forms of pain life has to offer. What does the Bible say about this issue? Does the Bible give us any examples of suffering and some indicators on how to deal with it?
The answer is yes. In Jesus we find the model and the purpose of suffering. Have you ever noticed how two people can experience the same kind of loss and yet each responds in a different way? Some say, "I hit rock bottom and it was there that I found God." Others, "I hit rock bottom and it was there that I rejected God." What's the difference? The difference is in what you tell yourself, what you believe about suffering. Christians know that God himself is not immune from pain. His son died a torturous death at the hands of men whom he created. But why would he allow it? Because God has a purpose in suffering.
St. Augustine said, "Everywhere a greater joy is preceded by a greater suffering." Sounds strange to hear that suffering leads to joy. How so? Our relationship with God is made less formal and less artificial and less distant, it becomes more personal and more real and more intimate and close and deep. A Romanian pastor who suffered torture under communist rule said this, “Christians are like nails, the harder you hit them, the deeper they go.” You are called to be a firm, straight nail and when life hammers you, you will rejoice not in the pain of the strike but in the depth of its effect - going deeper in Christ because of your suffering. Will you suffer well?