God promises in Romans 8:28 that He is working all things (the good and bad things, the pleasurable and the painful things, the good and the evil things) for the good of those who love Him. Everything that comes into the believer’s life is designed by God for their ultimate good.
So, how is does God use suffering for the good of believers? There’s about ten-million answers (see some more here and here and here), but one will do for now: God uses suffering to bring us closer to Jesus.
Gavin Ortlund explains:
Twice in 1 Peter the apostle commends suffering for Christ on the basis of the prior and larger reality of Christ’s suffering:
- It is a gracious thing to suffer for good (2:19-20) because Christ also suffered for you (2:21-25)
- Suffer for doing good (3:8-17) for Christ also suffered once for sins (3:18-22)
When we suffer for Christ, it is so helpful to remember: He was here first. Suffering is a doorway, an entrance to something new that we have not yet experienced. But its newness is to us, not to him…We are called to follow, not explore.
And because Christ walked ahead of us, we know greater fellowship with Him as we follow in his steps. To suffer for Christ is, in a mysterious way, to suffer with Christ—it is to “share Christ’s sufferings” (1 Peter 4:13) and to “know … the fellowship of His sufferings” (Philippians 3:10)… In our suffering we enter into this pattern. We “follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21); he is our “pioneer” (Hebrews 2:10); on the other side of that door is greater fellowship with Christ.
So, friend, when God brings clouds of sorrow into your life, at very least know this: He is bringing you closer to the Son.
See Gavin’s whole post here.