Why Christians Suffer

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Horatio G. Spafford was a prominent attorney in Chicago in the 1800s and a friend of evangelist Dwight L. Moody. While Spafford was both respected and comfortable, he was not free from severe hardship. 

First, he lost his 4-year-old son to scarlet fever. Then his real estate investments along Lake Michigan literally went up in flames in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Not long after that, his four daughters drowned in a shipwreck, and his wife Anna survived the ordeal only because the ship's debris buoyed her as she floated unconscious in the Atlantic Ocean.

Crossing the sea to join his bereaved wife, Spafford was called to the captain's deck as the ship sailed past the foamy deep where his daughters were lost. The captain informed him that the waters there were three miles deep. Returning to his cabin, Spafford penned these words to the now-famous hymn:

When peace like a river attendeth my way, 
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul

Why did such tragedy befall this godly man? Spafford may have wondered why, but ultimately he rested in the sovereignty of God.

We can better appreciate God's sovereignty, even in the darkest nights, by observing 10 reasons we suffer, according to Scripture.

1. We suffer because we sin. All of us are sinners (Romans 3:10, 23). Unbelievers live lifestyles of independence from God, while believers experience moments or seasons of independence. Spiritual discipline is designed to target sin in a believer's life and that discipline may be severe, including death (1 Corinthians 11:29-32).

2. We suffer because others sin. Children suffer at the hands of an abusive parent. Citizens suffer at the hands of corrupt leaders. Rarely does our sin remain confined to us. King David numbered his troops and 70,000 people suffered the consequences. Jesus suffered through no fault of His own but gave His life for our sins.

3. We suffer because we live in a sinful and fallen world. Accidents happen. Natural disasters take the lives of millions each year. The Apostle Paul writes that the whole world is groaning beneath the weight of sin (Romans 8:22).

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SOURCE: Baptist Press
Rob Phillips
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