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Help to the Hurting: A Response to the Shooting in Las Vegas

October 3, 2017

When tragedy strikes human beings want many things. We want to find refuge from the horror. We want comfort. We want things to return to “normal.” We want answers, especially to the question, “Why?” As our nation reels in the aftermath of the shooting in Las Vegas we know these desires have risen in the hearts of many. Suffering is one of the most common reasons people seek counseling, and the Biblical Counseling Coalition has many resources to help those facing suffering and to equip those helping the sufferers. You can find more of them here on our resource page.

We selected this blog to repost because we want to begin to help people answer the question of “Why?” If you are suffering we are praying for you and we hope you will find comfort and refuge in our Lord through opening His Word and seeing His love for you in the pages of Scripture. You don’t have to take all of these at once. Read one or two at a time along with the accompanying Bible verses and cry out to God. If you are helping someone through the trauma remind yourself of these truths and pray for God’s wisdom and opportunities to offer comfort.

The staff and members of the Biblical Counseling Coalition are praying for those directly and indirectly affected by this tragedy. Our hearts are weeping with you while you weep.

36 Purposes of God in Our Suffering

Joni Eareckson Tada has given us many books on the subject of God’s tender care for His children in times of suffering. Joni strikes the chord of authenticity with us so well because suffering is the world she lives in 24/7, literally. My personal favorite is When God Weeps: Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty, co-authored with Steve Estes, a pastor in Pennsylvania. The following list of God’s purposes in our suffering is from one of the appendices in that book.

Take some time to meditate on the wisdom of God as He works out His perfect will through our suffering. No wonder James, the brother of our Lord, commanded us to “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials” (James 1:2)!

  1. Suffering is used to increase our awareness of the sustaining power of God to whom we owe our sustenance (Ps 68:19).
  2. God uses suffering to refine, perfect, strengthen, and keep us from falling (Ps 66:8-9; Heb 2:10).
  3. Suffering allows the life of Christ to be manifested in our mortal flesh (2 Cor 4:7-11).
  4. Suffering bankrupts us, making us dependent upon God (2 Cor 12:9).
  5. Suffering teaches us humility (2 Cor 12:7).
  6. Suffering imparts the mind of Christ (Phil 2:1-11).
  7. Suffering teaches us that God is more concerned about character than comfort (Rom 5:3-4; Heb 12:10-11).
  8. Suffering teaches us that the greatest good of the Christian life is not absence of pain, but Christlikeness (2 Cor 4:8-10; Rom 8:28-29).
  9. Suffering can be a chastisement from God for sin and rebellion (Ps 107:17).
  10. Obedience and self-control are from suffering (Heb 5:8; Ps 119:67; Rom 5:1-5; James 1:2-8; Phil 3:10).
  11. Voluntary suffering is one way to demonstrate the love of God (2 Cor 8:1-2, 9).
  12. Suffering is part of the struggle against sin (Heb 12:4-13).
  13. Suffering is part of the struggle against evil men (Ps 27:12; 37:14-15).
  14. Suffering is part of the struggle for the kingdom of God (2 Thess 1:5).
  15. Suffering is part of the struggle for the gospel (2 Tim 2:8-9).
  16. Suffering is part of the struggle against injustice (1 Pet 2:19).
  17. Suffering is part of the struggle for the name of Christ (Acts 5:41; 1 Pet 4:14).
  18. Suffering indicates how the righteous become sharers in Christ’s suffering (2 Cor 1:5; 1 Pet 4:12-13).
  19. Endurance of suffering is given as a cause for reward (2 Cor 4:17; 2 Tim 2:12).
  20. Suffering forces community and the administration of the gifts for the common good (Phil 4:12-15).
  21. Suffering binds Christians together into a common or joint purpose (Rev 1:9).
  22. Suffering produces discernment, knowledge, and teaches us God’s statutes (Ps 119:66-67, 71).
  23. Through suffering God is able to obtain our broken and contrite spirit which He desires (Ps 51:16-17).
  24. Suffering causes us to discipline our minds by making us focus our hope on the grace to be revealed at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Pet 1:6, 13).
  25. God uses suffering to humble us so He can exalt us at the proper time (1 Pet 5:6-7).
  26. Suffering teaches us to number our days so we can present to God a heart of wisdom (Ps 90:7-12).
  27. Suffering is sometimes necessary to win the lost (2 Tim 2:8-10; 4:5-6).
  28. Suffering strengthens and allows us to comfort others who are weak (2 Cor 1:3-11).
  29. Suffering is small compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ (Phil 3:8).
  30. God desires truth in our innermost being and one way He does it is through suffering (Ps 51:6; 119:17).
  31. The equity for suffering will be found in the next life (Ps 58:10-11).
  32. Suffering is always coupled with a greater source of grace (2 Tim 1:7-8; 4:16-18).
  33. Suffering teaches us to give thanks in times of sorrow (1 Thess 5:17; 2 Cor 1:11).
  34. Suffering increases faith (Jer 29:11).
  35. Suffering allows God to manifest His care (Ps 56:8).
  36. Suffering stretches our hope (Job 13:14-15).

Out of His deep love for us God is more interested in making His children like Christ than He is in making us comfortable. The glory He receives from redeeming depraved sinners like us and remaking us into His image will be the song that fills the halls of heaven for all eternity (Rev 5:9-10). Since that will be the case in the future, let us pursue joy in the Lord here in the present.

[The above list makes a great personal Bible study or the basis for small group discussion.]

NOTE: 36 Purposes of God in Our Suffering was written by Paul Tautges and originally appeared on Counseling One Another and is used with permission.


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