“Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” (2 Cor 1:9)
Why doesn’t God take the pain away? Why doesn’t He free us from all difficulties? Is it because we don’t have enough faith? Some would want you to believe your difficulties are correlated with your lack of faith, but that is not the biblical answer.
Paul had faith. He worked for the Lord tirelessly, traveling around the known world at the time preaching the gospel. He, however, was ridiculed, arrested, beaten, and left for dead. He experienced difficulty not in one city but in several. In the verse preceding the above Paul relays to the Corinthians that he was “so utterly burdened beyond [his] strength that [he] despaired of life itself.” (2 Cor 1:8).
What was God’s purpose in allowing Paul to suffer? What is God’s purpose in allowing us to suffer and face difficulties?
Deep down we believe we can do life on our own. That we are capable of handling anything that comes at us. Our culture — the books we read and the movies we watch — drill that idea into our heads. We are told we can be like Mike. No mountain is to high for us to climb. No task to difficult. That we need only to pull up our boot straps and get to work. We are the master of our own ship. We can sail that ship wherever we want in our own strength and ingenuity.
While these mantras are popular, they aren’t true. Life doesn’t work that way. Most all of us will never play like Mike. There will be mountains too high to climb and tasks too difficult for us to do. While we might be able to sail some places in our ship, we can’t sail around the world. Sometimes our boot straps break!
What is God’s purpose in allowing us to suffer and face difficulties? It is so we might rely on God and not ourselves. God is all-powerful, all-capable, all-sovereign. There is nothing too much for God. We must depend on Him to accomplish what we can’t. To help us with our tasks. To use us to accomplish our mission and purpose in the world to make disciple-making disciples for His glory.
When we live in prayerful dependence on the Lord, we experience joy, meaning, and purpose.