The most important thing about suffering is not why it happens, but how we respond to it. Attitudes, not answers, are the keys to triumphant living. To know why suffering comes does not ease the pain or heal the hurt. But if we respond to it correctly, it can make us better regardless of its cause.
How we respond to suffering is entirely up to us. We do not get to choose our experiences in life. And we may never understand why they come to us, but we can choose our response to them. We determine how they will affect our lives.
There are at least five responses we can make to suffering.
1. We can become bitter. We can follow the advice that Job’s wife gave to him in his suffering. We can “curse God and die” (Job 2:9). We can blame God for everything that happens to us and become resentful, skeptical, and unbelieving.
2. We can sink into self-pity. We can feel sorry for ourselves and cry, “Why me?”
3. We can accept suffering with unquestioning resignation. We can take the attitude that whatever will be will be.
4. We can demand total intellectual understanding of all that happens. Good luck.
5. We can respond to our troubles in faith. We can let them turn us to God. Faith is looking to God for help and for hope. It is believing in his love and power enough to ask him to help us. It is trusting him even when we do not understand why things happen to us.
This is the best response. Bitterness and self-pity will destroy us. Believing in blind faith or demanding total understanding will never satisfy us. But faith in the Lord will strengthen and sustain us.