What follows is the introduction for God’s Purpose for Your Suffering by Charles Spurgeon.
When we suffer, the question we all ponder is Why? While we may not know exactly what God is up to in our suffering and trials, we can rest confident that He does have a purpose. Knowing this gives us hope.
The purpose of this book is to give you hope and to help you make the most of your suffering. You can’t ease the pain of your tough situation by complaining and growing bitter (that makes things worse!), but you can make sure that you reap all of the blessings and lessons He has for you.
Suffering is an opportunity.
An Opportunity for Joy
I’ve always found James 1:2–4 astounding:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
We can count all suffering as joy. God is at work in us. He is at work in our situation. We may not understand His purposes, but we can trust He won’t renege on His promises. And the light that shines from His promises is brighter in the darkness.
It’s hard to count suffering as joy as a young person new to suffering, but the longer we walk with Christ and the more trials we pass through, the more steadfast and filled with faith we will become. James says as much!
An Able Teacher
Charles Haddon Spurgeon knew suffering. On October 19, 1856, while preaching at the Surrey Gardens Music Hall, someone in the crowd yelled “Fire!”, creating a stampede that trampled seven to death and left thirty more seriously injured. Spurgeon likely suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) related to this event the rest of his life.
Spurgeon also suffered from poor health, battling gout and kidney disease at various times. Many in Spurgeon’s own denomination shunned him in the Downgrade Controversy. Off and on Spurgeon battled depression.
His time in the furnace of affliction and his deep biblical insight make the eight sermons in this volume especially helpful for us as we think about the trials and tribulations we face.
“There is in the Bible a remedy exactly fitted for your grief if you could only find it,” wrote Spurgeon. “Sometimes you lose the key of a drawer, and you must have it opened, and therefore you send for the whitesmith, and he comes in with a great bunch of keys. Somewhere among them he has a key that will open your drawer. The Bible contains keys that will open the iron gates of your trouble, and give you freedom from your sorrow.”
In our case, Spurgeon is the locksmith with eight Scripture keys that will revive our souls and rejoice the heart (Psalm 19:7–11). So as you read, turn nuggets of truth into prayer. Ask God to purify you, teach you, mature you, and bless you.
God used Joseph’s suffering. He used Job’s suffering. He used the suffering of Hannah and of the apostle Paul, and of course He used the suffering of His own Son, Jesus Christ.
How might He use yours?
Kevin P. Halloran
Author, When Prayer Is a Struggle: A Practical Guide for Overcoming Obstacles in Prayer
God’s Purpose for Your Suffering by Charles Spurgeon is available in paperback and Kindle editions.