What do we do when we encounter suffering?

Evaluate the cause and try to eliminate them

Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

Ask God to reveal to you any sin that may be contributing to your difficulties.

(Psa 139:23-24 NIV)  Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. {24} See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

However, suffering is not always the result of sin (See study on Job)

Curses (See Blessings & Curses)

Uncontrollable factors

For example, we organize a picnic and it rains.

Human error

In such a case, we need to evaluate the situation on a natural plane and ask ourselves how we can avoid this in future.

God’s testing

Avoid hopelessness and evaluate God’s character
God loves us

God loves us so much He gave His only Son to die for us. If God loves us so much, He is not capable of doing anything that is not for our good.

The Bible tells us that even the things we consider “bad” are things that God intended for our good.

(Rom 8:28 NIV)  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

(Heb 12:10-11 NIV)  Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. {11} No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

There is nothing impossible for God

If God loves us so much, it means that there is nothing He is unwilling to do to bless us. Not only is there nothing He is unwilling to do, there is nothing He is unable to do to bless us.

(Mat 19:26 NIV)  Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Avoid self-pity and evaluate trials of other people
We are not alone in our trials

Jesus warns us of constant pressure.

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

The word “trouble” is the same word used for pressing out the wine from the grapes. Therefore Jesus is talking about “pressure”.

We cannot escape from pressure but we can overcome it. We have to face it and not run away from it. Jesus says, “Take heart” or “Take courage”.

Trials of biblical characters

(Heb 12:3 NIV)  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Trials of others

We can gain encouragement when we look at how others less fortunate than ourselves have gone through greater trials and yet exhibit such strength of character.

Thank God instead of grumbling

1 Thessalonians 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Be joyful and praise God whatever the circumstances
Dangers of grumbling

(Isa 45:9 NIV)  “Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘He has no hands’?

(Num 14:27-29 NIV)  “How long will this wicked community grumble against me? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites. {28} So tell them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the LORD, I will do to you the very things I heard you say: {29} In this desert your bodies will fall–every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me.


Ask God for help
Ask God to show you what actions you can take to resolve it.

(Jer 42:1-3 NIV)  Then all the army officers, including Johanan son of Kareah and Jezaniah son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least to the greatest approached {2} Jeremiah the prophet and said to him, “Please hear our petition and pray to the LORD your God for this entire remnant. For as you now see, though we were once many, now only a few are left. {3} Pray that the LORD your God will tell us where we should go and what we should do.”

How to know God’s will?

Ask God for strength to go through the trial.

(Psa 138:3 NRSV)  On the day I called, you answered me, you increased my strength of soul.

When the Israelites were in the wilderness, they received manna from God every day so that they would have strength to go through the trial of the wilderness.

When we also encounter trials, let us ask God to give us His “manna” so that we can go through the trial.

2 tim 4:16 At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them.

4:17 But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth.

4:18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Move beyond yourself to help others

(Job 42:10 NIV)  After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.

Job himself was in so much difficulty. Yet God wanted Job to pray for his friends and God restored Job’s prosperity only after he had done so.

If we indulge in our problems alone, we become caught in a web of self-pity but when we help others in their difficulties in spite of our own, God will honor the effort.

Be patient and wait for the Lord to act