Why do we suffer?

Life throws challenges at us. There is no way around them, only through them. Some are minor, but some can be harsh and painful. Sometimes these challenges are of our own creation by poor choices we’ve made, and sometimes they are given to us by God for reasons we can’t presently see. God himself didn’t immunize himself from suffering. In Hebrews 5:8 we read of Jesus:

“Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;”

He set the example of perfect obedience in every circumstance of life he journeyed through. He knew we would have to endure some rugged trials in life in order to be tested to see if we would hold faithful to the end of our lives and be found worthy children to return to our heavenly home. God intends to make us into his image for a higher purpose, and part of transcending this world is through the lessons we learn from suffering.

Why do we suffer?Does God want us to suffer?

God doesn’t inflict harsh trials on us to watch us suffer. There is always a higher purpose in the trial when God brings the trial upon us. For example, many families deal with a difficult illness in the family or the death of a child. Why? Because when we are in the heat of the furnace of affliction, our spiritual strength can grow faster due to the refining power of a trial. We have a choice to turn to God or turn away. If we turn away and suffer just for the sake of suffering through the trial, we don’t grow. But if we use that opportunity to turn to God and allow His love to permeate our souls, we can gain knowledge, wisdom, and compassion that will aid us in becoming closer to God and in our capacity to serve others in their times of need. It can bring about godly changes in our lives to experience what others are going through so that we can succor them in their infirmities.

Hebrews 5:2 “Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.”

From the Book of Mormon we read of the command to take care of others out of the compassion of our hearts.

Mosiah 4:16 “And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.”

Finally, by turning to God in our sufferings and allowing him to change us, we will bring about the necessary sanctification of our hearts that leads us back into His presence.

D&C 109:76 That our garments may be pure, that we may be clothed upon with robes of righteousness, with palms in our hands, and crowns of glory upon our heads, and reap eternal joy for all our sufferings.

To those who are suffering through a sore trial, I would encourage you to turn to God in prayer. Seek His direction. Let His spirit comfort you in your affliction and in spite of the outcome of your trial, you will be blessed and have a witness of God’s eternal love for you. Your faith will be strengthen and you will know that your suffering was not in vain, but brought you a blessing more precious than gold.

1 Peter 1:7 “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ”

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