(The Faith Forum Series)

Why does a child of God suffer? Why does God allow it? Why doesn’t he spare us pain and sorrow? In the midst of my own pain and what seemed like a prolonged period of severe adversity and drought in my life, I meditated on the reasons given by Moses to the children of Israel, as to why God had allowed them to stay in the wilderness (which was not a pleasant place) for forty l(40) long years, before changing their course.

In Deuteronomy 8: 2-3 and 5, Moses stated to the Israelities, that it was:

  • “…to HUMBLE thee, and to PROVE thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no…that he might MAKE THEE KNOW THAT MAN DOTH NOT LIVE BY BREAD ONLY, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live…Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so THE LORD THY GOD CHASTENETH THEE.”

Based on these verses, I concluded, that the Believer in the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Christian) suffers for one or more of five (5) main reasons as follows:-


This has two (2) meanings. For some, this means that the adversity is meant to bring down their pride because they are too puffed up in God’s sight. Matthew 23:12 states, “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” In 1 Peter 5:6-7, the warning is also given: “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.”

On the other hand, although some Christians were not puffed up and did not have too high an opinion of themselves, their accomplishments, their ability and their own merits, God still brought the adversity to teach them a different kind of humility, which means complete and absolute dependence on HIM.

He stripped them of everything (sort of like what he did with Job and what he did with me in the past), so that their confidence could not be placed in self, friends, family, money, good looks, position, a man, empty religion or anybody or anything but him. He removed EVERYTHING, so that they could fix their gaze on nothing but HIM. When all else failed, he was all that they had but he was all that they ever needed.


God will put his children through some severe trials and tribulations and sometimes prolonged, to test or prove the extent of your faith and love for him.

The basic questions he asks when all hell breaks loose in your life and nothing seems to be working out are: “Will you still serve me although my handouts have ceased and I have opted to remain silent to your cries? Are you in this walk for me or for the things you think you can get from me? Look outside. There is no more glorious sunshine and nothing but torrents of rain. Will you turn your back on me because of it or will you learn the art of praising me in the storm?”

This is what Job, a man the Bible describes as perfect, went through and he passed with flying colours. Will you?


God is interested in the spiritual development of his children and nothing brings out gold better, than the scorching heat and intensity of fire. When God lights a fire beneath your pot, it is not so that you will sweat, give up, grow exhausted or explode. It is not that he does not care. He is however, a long term God and he is interested in the end product. Godly character MUST be built and it can only be elevated through hardships.

As I said once, God does not process us through pleasure. He processes us through pain. God is not interested in his children staying at one level spiritually. He wants us to grow and sufferings and afflictions are necessary steps to take us to the next level.

In 2013, God allowed me to go through so much pain, I thought I would die. In 2014, he allowed things to happen at a spiritual level, to open up my eyes to the reality of spiritual warfare. The devil kept sending spiritual attacks like I had never experienced and waged war against me at a whole new level but God allowed it (while protecting me) to open my eyes to what is happening spiritually in this life that we live and to teach me how to fight back with the spiritual weapons he has provided. I had to adjust my lens as a matter of necessity.

Since 2014, I look at everything with spiritual glasses. At first I was terrified as to why all these strange, weird things with no logical, natural explanation were happening around me and with such frequency but God had a purpose in allowing it.

At the end of your ordeal (be it heartbreaks, betrayals, gossip, job loss, financial lack, sickness, spiritual attacks or whatever comes your way), your dependence on God grows and so does your relationship and intimacy with him.

If you survive, your faith soars to unprecedented levels, God opens your eyes spiritually and you become more discerning and spiritually aware. Through your adversity, you grew spiritually and that was necessary to awaken you from your sleep, to that reality.

All that we see is not all that is and God wants all Christians on the battlefield as part of his army. We must fight the devil by meditating on, believing in and applying the WORD, having strong and immovable FAITH in God’s character, power and promises, engaging in effective and fervent PRAYER from the heart, disciplining our bodies through FASTING and dwelling (come what may), in an atmosphere of PRAISE.


God brings and uses adversity, as punishment for disobedience. He does not do it because he hates us but because he loves us and wants us to repent for the areas in our lives that we have not submitted to him. He is no respecter of persons and nobody gets a pass (Colossians 3:25). He is also not deceived, as he knows our heart. All disobedience by his children, which is sin is met with some form of consequence, which may be chastening and there is no getting around it or away from it.

One hallmark of a true Christian is that God chastens him when he does wrong. Hebrews 12:6-10 reminds us that if we are God’s children, we will experience punishment for disobedience because God loves us and will orchestrate things in our lives so that we will get back on to the right path. The scripture reads:

  • “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.”

God demands that you align yourself with his righteousness and sometimes he will cause you to be harassed, punished, stuck and oppressed, until you learn the lesson that he has been trying to teach. Hebrews 12:11 states:

  • “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”


This is not mentioned in the scripture above but it is demonstrated in biblical stories.

Admittedly, we gain our strength, inspiration, encouragement, warnings and guidance from some of the sufferings that God’s people went through in the Bible, whether because they took a stand for what was right in God’s eyes or because of their disobedience or for any other reason.

Sometimes God will put you through the worst to bring out the best, not only in yourself but also in others and so that his divine purposes (some of which we may never understand) will be fulfilled. See, God is all about HIS glory and uses our suffering to give a testimony.

In the Old Testament, the story of Job and Joseph’s adversity and extreme suffering, still bless and edify us today. They teach us so much and so were the stories of those who paid the ultimate price of death, in keeping with their calling, like Stephen and John the Baptist.

The idea of going through excruciating pain for the benefit of others was best demonstrated in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ himself. The Bible accurately records that “…For the joy that was set before him, (he) endured the cross.” (Hebrews 12:2).

The joy that Jesus focused on and which enabled him to endure being put to death was the thought that in his death and after his resurrection, whosoever believed on him would be blessed with eternal life and reconciled to God the Father.

When we suffer for the benefit of others, it is much like what happens when a woman is in labour. She does not look forward to the pain that she must go through but she bravely musters all her strength and endures it to the end, for the joy of birthing a new life into the world.

John 16:21 states: “A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.”

Romans 8:18 also states: “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”


In closing, the Bible makes it clear that every true believer in Jesus Christ is called to go through sufferings. This is inescapable. As much as we hate to suffer, it is one of the tools that God uses to bless us, by humbling us, testing us, growing us and chastening us. Apart from ourselves, he also uses our sufferings to be a blessing to those around us.

(Written on 10th March, 2016)


After Joseph, who had been second in command in Egypt had died, the Word of God says that another Pharaoh arose who did not know Joseph and instead of showing favour to the Israelites, he devised means to destroy and weaken them. By the time that Pharaoh had died, the children of Israel were being afflicted, badly treated and in bondage, heavy burdens being laid upon them by the Egyptian people.

Exodus 2:23-25 states:

  • “And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.”

One may wonder why God had purposed for his people to go into Egypt, a place that they would eventually be afflicted in for many years, even after Jacob seemingly harboured some trepidation about the move. It is clear that them being made to suffer was part of his divine plan.

In Genesis 15:13-14, before the Israelites were even a people, Isaac, one of their ancestors, not having even been yet born, God told Abram of what would happen in relation to his future descendants. The Bible states:

  • “And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.”

In Genesis 46:3-4, as Jacob, who God renamed Israel, had begun his journey toward Egypt, to see his son Joseph who he had thought was dead but was alive, when he came to Beersheba, it says that God spoke to him in visions in the night. The scripture reads: “And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation: I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again…”

Why then did God purpose for the children of Israel to go into Egypt and to go through such great suffering?

I cannot attempt to answer to this question, other than to say that God is sovereign and so he does as he pleases, which he is entitled to do, as God.

Charles Spurgeon makes an important observation though. He did not put forward a reason as to why he thought that God allowed the Israelites to enter Egypt, when he could simply have kept them out of it and taken them elsewhere. He does provide a reason however, in his estimation, as to why God allowed them to experience suffering at some point, while in Egypt.

In essence, when the Israelites came to Egypt, they were living well, them having been placed in Goshen, which was the best of the land They were receiving the best to eat and benefiting from Pharaoh’s favour, due to Joseph, who was the second in command in Egypt and a man in whom Pharaoh was well pleased, being their relative. They fared sumptuously during his lifetime, even better than the Egyptians themselves, it seemed, as the Egyptians had a difficult time during the famine, even having to resort to selling their lands and being relocated by Joseph, in order to get food to eat. On the contrary, the Israelites and their animals were well provided for and no doubt, they prospered, flourished and had a comfortable life in Egypt.

Spurgeon pointed out then, that God allowed affliction and bondage and hardship, not because he takes delight in seeing his people suffer but so that they would cultivate an appetite for flight. That is, due to the pressure they eventually faced and for many years with no sign of abatement, God allowed the Israelites to be so discomfited in the place that they once found comfort, that they developed a desire, an eagerness even, to leave Egypt.

For, whereas it was God’s plan for them to go into Egypt and to spend hundreds of years there, it was not his plan for them to remain there indefinitely. These were his chosen people and therefore, it was always on his agenda, even as he told Abram, to bring them out, so that they would be a separated people, for his glory. Yes there was some semblance of physical separation in Egypt, God having orchestrated things so that they would reside in Goshen, away from the rest of the Egyptians. However, this level of separation was not enough. God wanted his people for himself and desired to bring them into their own land, a land that he promised them that they would have.

Charles Spurgeon therefore reasoned, that had they not faced affliction, had they not been mistreated and burdened with sufferings, that the Israelites would not have wanted to leave Egypt. This seems true, given how much they longed for the leeks and onions after they had left Egypt and were in the wilderness and how unwilling they were to let go of some of the things they had unfortunately learned while there.

In Ezekiel 20: 6-8, through his Prophet, God stated of the Israelites, who he did eventually bring out of Egypt:

  • “In the day that I lifted up mine hand unto them, to bring them forth of the land of Egypt into a land that I had espied for them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands: Then said I unto them, Cast ye away every man the abominations of his eyes, and defile not yourselves with the idols of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. But they rebelled against me, and would not hearken unto me: they did not every man cast away the abominations of their eyes, neither did they forsake the idols of Egypt…”

The Israelites had therefore adopted some of the idolatrous practices of the people of Egypt, while living in Egypt, although they were residing some distance away from the Egyptians. Furthermore, so embedded in them were some of these practices, that it was difficult to break. They clung to them, even after having been told to let go of them, hence the reason God took them in the wilderness and not straight to the promised land, them being in need of processing and cleansing.

In addition to the reason that Charles Spurgeon cited, for why God allowed the Israelites to go through suffering in Egypt, it dawned on me as well, that in addition to God wanting them to desire to leave Egypt, God also used the sufferings as a platform to showcase his glory. For, as I wrote in another Article some years back, our difficulty is God’s opportunity, to show up and show off, which he definitely did in Egypt, through a series of miracles. This may have been one of the reasons why he purposed for them to go into Egypt, a place where he knew they would suffer and allowed them, through the hardness of Pharoah’s heart, to go through suffering.

Thirdly, sometimes the best way to grow in our knowledge of the Lord and in spiritual maturity is to go through suffering.

Ecclesiastes 3:7-4 rightly states: “Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made be”tter. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

Due to the Israelites’ sufferings, God had opportunity to show up and to showcase his power and in him working all the miracles that he worked and the Israelites witnessing same, the God who desires intimacy with his people, allowed his people to learn of him, of his power, his faithfulness and his love for them. All that they had known of him was that he was the God of their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that he had spoken to them and promised great things. After seeing first hand what he did in Egypt though, they had a testimony for themselves, based on their own experience. that the God of their fathers was all-powerful, was faithful to his promise, even when it seemed as if he had delayed and that he was a great God, worthy of praise, honour, glory and adoration.

God therefore achieved at least three (3) beautiful purposes through the prolonged and grievous sufferings he allowed the Israelites to go through. It was not for nought. These were as follows:

  1. He got them to desire to leave Egypt without him having to force them to do so;
  2. He got the opportunity to showcase his awesome power for his honour and glory; and
  3. He got them to learn more of him, which was necessary, if they were to have a relationship with him.

A few minutes after processing this, it dawned on me that these were some of the very reasons that God allowed the great turbulences and sufferings that I endured for several years, in the profession that I studied and served in. I sincerely believe, when I consider the facts, that it was his will for me to enter the profession that I did but to work in the capacity that I did, for only a time. Through the troubles, sufferings and afflictions that got stirred up, I greatly desired to leave the ofession or at least, the types of jobs that people with my qualifications would normally be expected to serve in and I believe that this was one of the reasons that God allowed the pain that I went through.

Secondly, in retrospect, in my dififculty, I saw God show up and work miraculously in my troubles, over and over again, so much so, that I started writing a book some years ago (which, unfortunately, I stopped at one point but need to resume).

Thirdly, when I consider the experiences that I had with my God, it caused me to learn more about him, not just in terms of what I read in the Bible or what people said but from what I personally went through and the things that he did. I became completely dependent on him, my relationship with him grew and my experiences served to strengthen my faith in him, him having showed up and helped me on many occasions when no one else could have helped me and the situation seemed impossible. Had I never gone through what I went through, I never would have know my God the way I do now. My sufferings drew me closer to him, helped me to learn more of his character and helped me to grow in his knowledge and grace.

It is what I have learned and am still learning about the Lord, as I continue on in life (mainly from my sufferings), that I am sharing on this Website, to the benefit of others.

I am therefore thankful and grateful for my sufferings, although I did not at all enjoy going through what I experienced. I cried so much during that lengthy period, that it still hurts when I think of some of the things I went through. It still hurts when I consider some of the things that I am still going through.

I am reminded though, as I read the account with the Israelites in Egypt, that, even when God allows sufferings, even if he does not show up immediately to end it and as was stated in Isaiah 51:21, we feel drunken with affliction or as David once pointed out when he was going through suffering, that we are like a shadow when it declineth, tossed up and down as the locust (Psalm 109:23), God cares, he remains faithful, he has a plan and a purpose for the suffering and if it is his will, he will intervene at some point, to deliver us.

The Israelites sighed, indicative of them feeling hopeless, given the extent of their burdens and no solution seeming in sight. Yet, the Bible states that God took note of them and regarded them. It reads, “And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.”

It may not have seemed like it but God heard their cries. This is in keeping with his character. Psalm 22:24 states of him, “For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Neither hath he hid his face from him; But when he cried unto him, he heard.” Psalm 138:6 also states, “Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off.”

Similarly, in my sufferings which continued for years, the nights seemed as black as night, the atmosphere too still for comfort, my having cried for hours, days, weeks and months on end, without change. I often wondered, as I fought to make it through from one day to the next without losing my mind, where God was in all my sufferings. I knew he could see what I was going through but often wondered why he was not intervening to rescue me. I knew he could because he was all-powerful, yet, he did not, at least not for a long time.

The pain I went through was so debilitating, that I do not wish it on anybody considering themselves as my worst enemy. Yet, although God opted to remain silent, even when I did not understand, I understood that his ways and plans were best. I understood that he was allowing me to go through what I was going through and that my sufferings were serving a purpose.

Of the Israelite’s sufferings and how God used it to cause them to want to leave Egypt (which is symbolic of the world) and of how God often uses the sufferings of ungodly people or backsliders, to cause them to want to be free of their sin, Charles Spurgeon stated:

“The children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. And God heard their groaning.”

Notice, first, that they began to sigh, and to cry, because their time of prosperity had passed. The land of Goshen might still be very fruitful, but their taskmasters devoured their substance. The country might be fair to lour upon, but they had no time to enjoy the prospect. They were worked well-nigh to death, and they could no longer get any rest in Egypt. All their prosperity and happiness had departed.

Am I addressing any who were once very well content and satisfied to live as ordinary worldlings do? And has everything changed with you? Is there no joy now in what was once such a pleasure to you? Does it seem very dull and dreary if you go where you used to find so much merriment? Those haunts which were once the scene of your greatest delight,— are they now avoided by you because you cannot endure them? Do you feel that, now, you would gladly give up all those things which once you doted on?

I am thankful to hear that it is so, for when God is about to give a man to drink of the cup of salvation, he often first puts his taste right by washing out his mouth with a draught of bitters to take away the flavour of the accursed sweets of sin. I always regard it as a good and hopeful sign when a man becomes tired of the world, altogether weary of its sins, and says, “I find no pleasure in them.” This happens to some while they are still young, and their passions are strong,— while their substance is undiminished, while their health is vigorous,— while their friends are numerous. In the very middle of the day, their san of enjoyment seems to go down. There is the honey, but it is no longer sweet. There is the wine cup, but it has no further fascination for them. Their joy has departed just when one would have thought that it would have been most abiding with them. Do I speak to any in this condition? If so, I think that I bring a message from the Lord to them.

But, next, the Israelites had not only lost their former prosperity, but they began to feel that they were in bondage. An Israelite in Egypt was at first a gentleman,— in fact, a nobleman,— for was he not related to the great prime minister, Joseph, who was second only to Pharaoh himself? Every Jew walked through Goshen as an aristocrat, for he was intimately connected with almost the highest in the realm. But now, all that was changed with them, and they felt that they were slaves, they were in bitter bondage; they must act and move at the will of others. There were hard laws and regulations made for them, and cruel taskmasters to put those laws in action. They must rise, not when they chose, but when they were bidden; and they might get to their beds only when they were allowed to do so at the slavedriver’s will; and they felt that they could not bear it any longer. This was God’s way of bringing them out of bondage, by first making them feel that they were in slavery.

Have I any here who realize that they also are in slavery? Am I addressing a man who feels that he is in bondage to evil habits. which he cannot break off, although he wishes that he could, and counts himself degraded by the fact that to will, is present with him, but how to perform that which he would, he finds not, because he is a slave? His passions rule him, his companions control him, he dare not do what his conscience tells him is right, for there is a fear of somebody or other that makes him into a coward, and so into a slave. I am always glad when the fetters begin to fall. They who are content to be in bondage will never be freed; but when they feel that they cannot, and that they will not, any longer endure their captivity, then has the hour of freedom struck. It is an untold blessing when the grace of God makes a man feel that what was once a pleasure has now become a servitude, and what he formerly found to be liberty, has now become utter slavery to him.

The Israelites went further than that. They now felt that their burdens were too heavy to be borne. They had worked and toiled very hard, yet they had lived through the work; but now, they were made to serve with rigour, and their bondage was too heavy to be endured. They could not bear it; and it is just so spiritually.

As long as a man can carry his sins, he will continue to carry them; and as long as a man can be content with the pleasures of this world, rest assured that he will revel in them. It is a blessed thing when sin becomes an awful load, so that it crushes a man, until he seems to sink utterly hopeless beneath it. It is well with him, for now he will welcome the Deliverer. He will be glad of pardon from him who alone can forgive sins; he will rejoice to accept the word of absolution from the lips of the great High Priest; and, therefore, although it is often a sore sorrow, it is also a very great mercy, to be made to feel the intolerable load and burden of sin.

If I am speaking to any who are in such a condition, and I hope that I am, I congratulate them on what is yet to come to them. Oh! well do I remember when I was such a slave,— when, as I rose in the morning, I resolved to live better than I had previously done, yet, long before noon, I had made a worse mess of the day than ever. Then I thought that, perhaps, by increasing my prayers, or reading more of the Scriptures, I might get ease from my burden; but I found that, the more I prayed, and the more I read, the heavier my burden became. If I tried to forget my sorrow, and so to shake off my gloom, I found that it would not forget me, and I had to cry unto the Lord, with David, “Day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer.”

I remember all that painful time so vividly, that I can speak to some of you like an experienced friend who is well acquainted with the dark and stony road on which you are walking. I know all about your painful pathway of grief, and I long to help you to get over it quickly, and to come to a better and happier place.

But this trial is God’s way of fetching you out of Egypt. He is making the house of bondage too hot for you. He does not mean to let you stop there, so he is permitting all this to come upon you that you may cry unto him to deliver you. He will bring you forth, and you shall march out with joy and gladness, thankful and happy to do what now seems like a hardship, and like self-denial to you.

These Israelites also felt one thing more, namely, their powerlessness to escape out of Pharaoh’s hand, and they thought that there was nobody to help them. When the young man of forty came forward, who had been educated in Pharaoh’s court, and was reckoned to be the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, and when, like a true hero, he threw in his lot with the despised people, and smote one of their adversaries, he thought, perhaps, that it would be the signal for a general revolt, and that the banner of Israel would wave defiantly in the face of Pharaoh, and that the people would boldly march to liberty; but they were too enslaved, they had been too long ground down and oppressed, to act like that; they had lost all spirit, and they did not hope ever to be free, they were a nation of hopeless slaves.

Am I speaking to any here who have lost all heart and hope,— who have come to this place of worship with a sort of feeble wish for salvation, but with no expectation of receiving it? Are you so shut up in the prison of sin that you cannot come forth? Are your chains clanking in your ears’? Do you feel yourself to be in the low dark dungeon out of which you will never come alive? It is to you I have to say that I bless God that you are where you are. Self-despair is a blessed preparation for faith in Jesus. The end of the creature is the beginning of the Creator. Your extremity is God’s opportunity. Now that you are helpless and hopeless, God will come to your rescue.

(Addendum written on 03rd March, 2024)

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