rebelling against low expectations

Why Jesus Doesn’t Always Stop Your Suffering


“Stop suffering!” reads the words emblazoned across the front of a church building not too far away from my home in L.A.

I can’t say I know the people who put those words up because I’ve never even stepped foot inside the building. I don’t know what denomination the church is a part of or the heart of the people attending it. I’m sure they’re good people with love and hearts even bigger than mine.

But I can’t help cringing whenever I drive past their big red-letter sign because I think of all the people who are going to put their faith in Jesus and continue suffering.

Like I said, I may be taking it wrong. Perhaps they mean “Stop suffering without the comfort and strength of Christ” or something along those lines. Yet, I know many people will walk into that church thinking “Maybe if I get whatever they have, I won’t run into any more pain in life.”

The truth is, Jesus won’t necessarily end our suffering. At least, not in the way we would always like him to.

Five years ago my mom was killed in a car accident in Colorado, which, understandably, plunged my family into a season of deep grief and suffering.

Where was God when this happened? If Jesus died to keep us from suffering during our time on earth, then he miserably failed with that event.

I could pretend to not experience other kinds of suffering. I could probably act like I never get sick or that people never hurt or disappoint me. But I can’t pretend my mom back to life. I can’t stop that suffering. It’s real and undeniable like the missing leg of an amputee.

I lost my Mom, but what about the people who deal with chronic illness, remain more faithful to God than most people, pray for healing with intense faith, and yet are never healed.

So why does Jesus allow this? How can God be a loving Father and still allow suffering into my life?

Before we answer this, we should clarify a few crucial truths.

First, God has the big picture in mind. With that big picture in mind–and all its details and fine tuning–he knows exactly what is best for all of eternity.

Second, God’s wisdom is higher than ours. We can and should try to grasp God’s purpose, but we won’t always understand why God does what he does (Isaiah 55:8-9).

Third, God is always good. He made you and he loved you to death before you even had one thought about him (Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:10).

So if he sees the big picture, is wiser than us, and is always good then we can trust him in every situation.

Pure as Gold

Now, onto the problem of suffering. If God is good and all-powerful, why does he allow suffering?

Imagine you are a small nugget. But not just any nugget, an immensely valuable gold nugget.

Now imagine God holding you–his precious gold nugget–in his hands.

He loves and values you and delights in who you are. He also sees some things in you which are not gold and not apart of who he’s made you to be. You are saved and holy in His eyes, but there are impurities which need worked out of your life.

And how do you work impurities out of gold nuggets?

You put them through a fire.

Remember, God has the bigger picture in mind. He sees the beautiful, clean, pure, gold you will become and isn’t willing to leave you with less than his best. But you have to trust him through the process.

Even when our worlds seem to be falling apart: maybe our mother is dying, or we’ve lost our job, or a relationship has split into a thousand pieces–we have to trust God knows what he’s doing.

He sees the big picture, his heart is always good, and he’s using it all to refine us into pure, attractive, Jesus-reflecting gold.

“Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction” (Isaiah 48:10).

“The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts” (Proverbs 17:3).

Suffering Magnifies the Beauty of Christ

This took a long time for me to understand, but Christ is glorified through our suffering.

Think about it.

Imagine a man with a beautiful wife and an endless amount of money and satisfaction. Now imagine if this man were given a choice to either keep his wife and lose everything else, or to keep all his positions and continue having every other desire satisfied.

What would honor or, you could say, “magnify” the beauty of his wife?

Of course we all know the heart-melting answer to the story is that he says “Nah, I’ll keep my stuff.”


The heart-melting, soul-satisfying, tear-jerking answer is “Take everything else from me, because to live with my wife is all I need to be satisfied!”

And that–to an even greater degree–is how suffering can magnify the beauty of Christ

God blesses us with many good things: health, friends, and family. Sometimes he even does incredible miracles. These all glorify him and reflect his beauty.

Yet, when everything else is stripped away and we still muster the courage–yes, through tears, struggle, and agony–to say “Jesus is all I need to be satisfied” the world takes note and the beauty of Christ is magnified.

A Suffering King

There is incredible purpose in suffering. There is nobility and honor. It is through suffering that we are purified into shining nuggets of Gold and experience greater intimacy with Christ. And it’s through pain and disappointment we can demonstrate to the world where true satisfaction and rest are found.

But knowing all this doesn’t necessarily take away the bite of sorrow. The burden of grief and pain is too much for us to bear, even in it’s nobility.

That’s why from the very beginning of time, God looked down the halls of history and asked “Who will help them carry their sorrow? It is too much for them. Who will stand in the gap and take the blow from their own wickedness?”

With reverberating enthusiasm, Jesus, God’s only Son, stood up and did it. He took the blow. He took the full wrath of God for every sin any human ever committed in the history of the world.

Think about that. The Son of God took the eternal suffering of billions of people upon himself. That is absolutely astounding. That’s extraordinary love.

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—everyone—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:4-6).

An Awesome God

I’ve seen God move. I’ve seen him heal people of disease or provide the exact amount of finances a young family needed to get by. I’ve heard of him raising people I personally know, back to life. I’ve watched him bring divorced couples back into loving, healthy relationship.

I’ve also watched my mom die and siblings and friends wrestle against chronic illness. I’ve seen people go through painful relationships, lost jobs, church-splits, and a mountain of suffering.

Why does he allow some to live and others to die?

I don’t know. Not always.

But I do know, when Christ chooses to send me through suffering he never fails to bring me to the other side. And after I’ve “gone through the fire” I come out refined, like gold, and my relationship with Christ, deeper and stronger.

Following Christ doesn’t always mean suffering. But even if it does–if being in relationship with Jesus, the source of Life, means running through a fire…

I’m all in.

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

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About the author

Christopher Witmer

is the 24-year-old Editor-in-Chief for Originally from Northern Minnesota, he lives with his family in Los Angeles where they moved to plant inner-city churches. He loves sports, travel, and music, but his passion is writing for God and lifting high the name of Jesus through his writing.


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  • Wow. This is so powerful. It’s incredible to get to the place where you can say: EVEN IF I have to go through the fire…maybe even multiple times…I’m STILL in! I’m not letting go of Him!
    I want that. Thankyou for sharing!

    • No, you don’t want that. Mindless idiotic drivel on top of make believe infantile delusion and wish thinking is no way to go through life. The real world is far more interesting with all it’s warts than playing pretend

      • I don’t have any personal problems. I do have a problem with religious cults that corrupt the minds of gullible children

        • Very telling that you would admit that nothing will change your mind. No amount of reason or evidence. Says a lot about the depth of your indoctrination and brainwashing that you can’t entertain the possibility that you’ve been duped

          • If you KNOW it then you should be able to SHOW it. That’s how things work. If you cannot demonstrate the truth of your claim then you do not KNOW it you simply “believe” it

          • Is that so? You do realize don’t you that personal experience or “testimony” is NOT evidence right? Thousands of people have “testified” that they were abducted by aliens…do you automatically “believe” their experience and testimony? Why not?

            Can you demonstrate that it was in face “jesus” working in someone’s life? Why did “jesus” do these things for him yet a hundred thousand children died in their mothers arms today alone?

            Why are there hospitals and doctors if this guys prayers can bring people back from the dead? Do you “believe” that completely on the word of some stranger writing on a website?

            What other ridiculous things do you “believe” without demanding evidence?

          • Because I believe my own testimony, I believe others’ as well. I am amazed at what God has done in my life. You may accept the gift of grace God offers you through Jesus, or you may reject it. If God doesn’t exist, I’m not losing anything by believing in Him, so there’s no reason for me to change my mind. I’ll leave it at that–and I’ll be praying for you! Now I’ll stop commenting. 🙂

          • Can you demonstrate that “god” was the agent responsible for all the amazing things in your life?

            Why you while thousands and thousands of praying people around the world are ignored in their suffering?

          • I appreciate your curiosity, and so I will continue commenting. 🙂

            I have proof enough for myself to believe, but I don’t know if that would be helpful for you. What sort of proof do you need to believe that God was the one who did the amazing things in my life?

            As for your second question, yes, I am deeply saddened that there are people who haven’t heard about Jesus or who refuse to believe in Him. To me, the reality of the world versus the truth of Christ don’t contradict each other. Yet I disagree with you when you say that God ignores their suffering. People suffer for many reasons, as this article points out. Including that sin is in this world, so this world can’t possibly be without suffering as long as there is sin. God doesn’t ignore our suffering–he offers us eternal life through Jesus. It is our responsibility as Christians to tell others about Him, so they may experience joy in the midst of suffering, as the Holocaust survivor, Corrie Ten Boom did. What proof do you need to have to believe that God cares about all people and wants to comfort us in the midst of our suffering?

          • Here’s your problem….you cannot have “proof” enough just for you. Something is either true or it is not true and proof of a claim is universal not subjective….In other words, in questions such as “does god exist” the answer can only be yes or no it’s not a question like “which flavor of ice cream is best” which is a subjective question with no right or wrong answer.

            You use the word “truth” in relation to your claim of “jesus”

            Define how you KNOW something is true or not true.

            As to “sin”…one of your cults most destructive evil concepts….what “sin” does a newborn commit that your “god” would allow it to die in infancy from starvation or some horrible disease while he makes you feel all fuzzy and warm inside when you sing at church?

          • Hebrews 11:1-3 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”
            Faith is my proof and evidence. I understand if that is hard for you to understand, because it really must look foolish to someone who has not been utterly convicted by the Holy Spirit.
            And Jesus is different from other “gods.” He is the only who provides a way into heaven without our own striving to be perfect. He was perfect in our place, which gives us a confidence and desire to follow Him.
            I’m going to stop there, because I really don’t like debating. =) I will be praying for you.

          • Quoting your ancient book written by no name ignorant authors is not evidence or proof of anything.

            In fact, that quote describes one thing more clearly than anything….gullibility! “Faith” is the most dishonest position one can have. You can have “faith” in anything and know absolutely nothing as to its truth or falsehood.

            “Faith” is NOT evidence…it is willful gullibility

            Demonstrate the existence of a “holy spirit” That’s just boilerplate woo woo nonsense. You use the words because those in your cult use them but you can’t possibly demonstrate any such thing.

            If you can’t show it, you do not know it.

            There is NO historical evidence for the existence of any “jesus” and you can search the rest of your life and you will find none. It is a storybook of which you can demonstrate absolutely nothing to be actually true

            See, all you’re doing is making “claims” and “assertions” Crazy people do that, every religious person of every faith that ever existed did and does that, thousands of people claim to have seen bigfoot and been abducted by aliens…so what?

            If you cannot demonstrate it you cannot actually know it. That is the absolute definition of gullibility

            Save your silly useless “prayers” Nothing fails like prayer

          • You don’t like to “debate” because you have no rational argument, you fear your delusional world view will be upset, your elders and peers forbid you to critically think or you just want to believe whatever nonsense you want to believe and couldn’t care less about what’s actually true


          • Understand the concept of “burden of proof”

            You make the “claim” that some invisible character is responsible for things in your life….it is up to you to demonstrate that this claim is true.

            People claim to be abducted by aliens…muslims claim to be helped by muhammad….hindus claim that one of a multitude of “gods” had a hand in their affairs….every culture that ever had a “god” (thousands of them) make the exact same claim as you’re making. What makes you certain you’re correct and all these others are not?

          • could convince me…show me the evidence for any of your claims. Don’t sell me a used car show me the real goods….I don’t dismiss actual evidence and unlike you I remain always open minded

          • He may well have experienced a lot of things…that’s not what I’m questioning…I’m questioning the causal connections he’s making that are straight out of his religiously indoctrinated mind not from a reasoned logical mind. He is making up the reasons for things and cannot demonstrate that his reasoning is correct.

          • Ask him to demonstrate that people were raised from the dead. You should be questioning his sanity and offering mental health counseling to him for such claims.

            You should also be questioning your own sanity and level of gullibility that you would automatically “believe” him without evidence. Clearly if people were raised from the dead it would be front page news don’t you think? Yet you swallow it without a blink…very telling…very disturbing that your elders corrupted your mind to this degree where you could be so blindly credulous

          • No…he’s a lunatic…he can read these comments and chime in if he wants. Tell me…why aren’t all the dead raised instead of the few he claims? Why are their hospitals and doctors if cures are so easily had? Why would you be so disposed to instantly believe some post by some stranger about magical things and not have even a hint of skepticism? What does this say about you?

          • I couldn’t reply to them because you deleted them for some weird reason. What do you want to know now?

          • I read the whole thing and quoted his claims. Anyone who CLAIMS to have witnessed people coming back from the dead IS a lunatic. How is it that you are so gullible that you instantly “believe” such an extraordinary claim without corresponding extraordinary evidence to support that claim?

          • No, I’m not saying he’s a liar…he may truly have thought what he witnessed was what he ascribed it to…I don’t call out people for their “experiences” I call them out for making false assumptions about the causes of those experiences.

            This is a chat board for delusional religious lunatics so it’s no surprise that he is here and held in high regard…that has nothing to do with the truth of his absurd claims does it?

            The members here are all cast from the same delusional mold so they are not independent or capable of making independent assessments are they?

          • A person claims that he witnessed the dead coming back to life…..sane or insane?

            A person who “believes” this story without critical examination….sane or insane?

            A person who “believes” in invisible characters from an ancient book partaking in ritual human sacrifice on their behalf to appease a celestial dictator ….sane or insane?

          • You’re cool with being willfully gullible? That’s too bad

            Is it rational to simply “believe” the claims of another particularly claims that are extraordinary? Yes or No

          • The conversation goes nowhere because you can’t or won’t answer simple questions.

            I don’t “believe” anything

            Now answer the question…Is it rational to simply “believe” the claims of another particularly claims that are extraordinary? Yes or No

            Who keeps giving me up votes? Show

          • If someone says they bought a new puppy would it be reasonably rational to “believe” them…yes or no?

            If someone says they were abducted by aliens last night would it be reasonably rational to “believe” them…yes or no?

            If someone says they witnessed the dead coming back to life would it be reasonably rational to “believe” them…yes or no?

            Which of the above would be acceptable for a rational person to “believe” and which should a rational person require more evidence for?

          • What evidence do you have to support a “belief” in any of the claims made by the author of this essay?

          • Well don’t you think it would be front page news if they had? Wouldn’t every hospital close the next day when tents full of jesus prayers set up shop? Shouldn’t you find out before you give him credence?

          • The point is you were already onboard with his ridiculous claims just like you are with all your christian cults ridiculous claims without doing any investigation as to their truth or fiction.

            This is what I’ve been trying to get through to you this whole time.

          • So you simple just “believe” and don’t need to do any independent investigation. You just “believe” what you want to “believe” regardless of how absurd, impossible or ridiculous anyone’s claims might be.

            There’s a word for that….GULLIBLE

          • Go ahead…make me a “believer” Show conclusively why I should “believe” what your cult is selling.

          • Only fools would “trust” a stranger who makes outrageous claims. Only the most gullible would automatically give him credence without proper scrutiny and evidence. This is how all cults operate…Why aren’t all the dead come back to life? Why aren’t all the graves open? Why are hospitals still in business if healing and ressurection is so easily had?

  • Thanks for sharing these comforting truths you’ve learned in suffering, in the valley of the shadow of death.

    The entire article is conpelling, but especially this: “Remember, God has the bigger picture in mind. He sees the beautiful, clean, pure, gold you will become and isn’t willing to leave you with less than his best. But you have to trust him through the process.”

    Thanks again, Chris!

    • You don’t know as true a single word you just babbled. There’s no “loving process” in not stopping a tsunami that kills over 100,000 men women and children and there’s no “greater plan” to purposefully witness suffering when one could easily avoid it in the first place

  • “I’ve seen God move. I’ve seen him heal people of disease or provide the exact amount of finances a young family needed to get by. I’ve heard of him raising people I personally know, back to life. I’ve watched him bring divorced couples back into loving, healthy relationship.”

    No you haven’t. You can’t demonstrate a causal connection between anything you’ve “seen” with any invisible magic man in the sky. This is pure “argument from ignorance” “argument from incredulity” and infantile wish thinking. Time to grow up. Let me know when you see your “god” heal an amputee

  • This is powerful, Chris! God is using your suffering even now to glorify and magnify Himself! Such an incredibly important reminder I needed to read. Everyone goes through different suffering, but – despite what the suffering is – we know that God is good, holy, just, and sovereign. That knowledge and hope is what keeps us going when life looks, seems, and feels dark. Without Christ, suffering is a meaningless, heart-breaking cruelty. With Christ, while suffering is painful and difficult, we have hope – a hope that no one can take away.
    Thank you for this reminder!

  • This article is such a precious reminder. It’s easy to be overwhelmed with pain and suffering… but God gives us these things because He loves us! His plans are still to prosper.

  • Wow this is so so encouraging and uplifting to me Chris. Thank you so much for writing and sharing! I’m remembering one verse where Paul talks about how he glories in his infirmities because it ultimately brings God glory!

  • This is really Beautiful Christopher.And I truly agree with this line “Yet, when everything else is stripped away and we still muster the courage–yes, through tears, struggle, and agony–to say “Jesus is all I need to be satisfied” the world takes note and the beauty of Christ is magnified.”

    I learnt this the hard way last year, but at the end I came to this concusion:

    I don’t know about tomorrow;
    It may bring me poverty.
    But the one who feeds the sparrow,
    Is the one who stands by me.

    And the path that is my portion
    May be through the flame or flood;
    But His presence goes before me
    And I’m covered with His blood.

    Many things about tomorrow
    I don’t seem to understand
    But I know who holds tomorrow
    And I know who holds my hand..

rebelling against low expectations

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