Devotional Readings

Meaning in Suffering

These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold–and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:7, NLT.

When you’re suffering, it’s easy to lose hope. Dr. Victor E. Frankl, who lived through the horrors of the concentration camps in World War II, was asked to make a presentation to his fellow sufferers in the last dreadful days before liberation. He began with the hypothesis that “our situation was not the most terrible we could think of.” Here are the points he made to instill hope within the hopeless (from his book Man’s Search for Meaning).

  1. Very few of their losses were irreplaceable. Most could be restored or achieved again, such as health, family, happiness, professional abilities, fortune, or position in society.
  2. Although their chance of survival seemed small (perhaps 1 in 20), there was always the possibility that a great opportunity would come their way quite suddenly.
  3. What they had experienced, no power on earth could take from them.
  4. Human life always has a meaning, and this includes suffering, privation, and death. Regardless of circumstances, life must be lived with dignity and meaning. Even the sacrifice they were forced to make could have meaning if they chose to see that by their suffering someone else might suffer less. Or perhaps by their courage, others would be blessed.
  5. Life is still expecting something out of them. To give up would mean that someone in the future would suffer because they weren’t there; the word of kindness would not be said, a friend would not be helped, the book would not be written. They could never be too sick, too disabled, or too old that God does not need them and what they have to offer.

Many are angry at God because they think He allowed bad things to happen in order to work out His master plan for the universe, perfect our characters, teach us important lessons, or punish us for our mistakes. But God doesn’t make planes crash or boats sink; He doesn’t cause children to be born with AIDS, or sentence thousands to die from starvation. The basic truth is, bad things happen to us because we are living in Satan’s territory. And the consequence of sin is death.

If you are suffering, ask God to help you find meaning in it.

–Kay Kuzma

from Fit Forever: One-A-Day Devotionals for Body, Mind, and Spirit
Kay Kuzma (editor) | Review & Herald (2005)
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