Help, I’m Suffering
A Study Guide
“When pain is to be borne, a little courage helps more than knowledge, a little human sympathy more than courage, and the least tincture of the love of God more than all.” - C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
A Christian Response to Suffering: There is a God: the infinite personal God, who loves you. The God who is not indifferent to your suffering. It is not His intention that you should have to suffer. This is not the way God intended humanity to live. He is the one who is available if you will look to Him for: His grace, His comfort, and His mercy. . . in a sense, God weeps with us in our difficult times. As we see Jesus outside the tomb of Lazarus, for example, and he’s weeping. He’s weeping over what death and sin ha[ve] done to the human race. (B) It gives God no joy that you should be in this situation.
Possible Objections: You may be questioning: “If God is this way, then why won’t He stop [the suffering]?” A Christian Reply: That’s not the way the world is. That is not what God has ever made a promise to. His promise is that if we know Him in a personal way, He never leaves us. (ii) He never forsakes us. His grace and comfort is always available for us. [Knowing these things] can help you see beyond the moment. [They] can help you understand, if not fully, to have something to hold onto that’s greater than yourself.
How do I know that God loves me? A Christian Reply: Look to the cross. There, He never loved you less, and He can never love you more. We know by historical acts that God loves us.
It’s a matter of turning to Him, even in our difficulties. But we don’t just turn to Him because
we’re in difficulty. It’s because our difficulty has brought us to realize: “Things are really
broken in the world [where] I live.” [It makes us ask], “Is there any way beyond this?” And, of course, the Christian answer is yes. It’s through Christ, the One who died and gave
himself for us.
What Else We Need: But we need. . . Christians, to be: Reaching out to embrace you, to comfort you, to share with you what it is like to put your hope in God. It [in many cases] won’t make [your suffering] go away. It won’t mean that you won’t cry. It does mean that you have a hope when the day comes that you think you cannot go another day through this world, that there’s nothing worth living for. When you know God, you know that there is something worth living for. It is that that can be a real comfort to us, and an encourage for us to . . . put one foot in front of the other.
Recommended Further Reading:
How Long, O Lord?: Reflections on Suffering and Evil, by D.A. Carson
Be Still, My Soul: Twenty-Five Classic and Contemporary Readings on the Problem of Pain, by David Martyn Lloyd-Jones; D.A. Carson; J.I. Packer; Nancy Guthrie
Surprised by Suffering: The Role of Pain and Death in the Christian Life, by R.C. Sproul
A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God’s Sovereignty, by Joni Eareckson Tada