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  • Eric Kampmann

Why Do We Suffer?

See Psalm 119:67–71

The Psalmist says he “went astray” before he was afflicted and that it was through suffering that he turned away from his folly, realizing that only God is good. He now “delights in [God’s] law.” And by expressing joy in suffering, he pinpoints one of the central paradoxes for those who follow Christ.

Paul was not a stranger to suffering. At one point in his second letter to the Corinthians, he catalogues the sufferings he endured for the greater glory of Christ: “In great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger . . .” (2 Corinthians 6:4–5).

But rather than lament his bad fortune, he speaks triumphantly about the good fortune of being able to suffer for so great a purpose. “Rather as servants of God, we commend ourselves in every way . . . in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich, having nothing, and yet possessing everything” (2 Corinthians 6:4, 7–10).

In his first letter, Peter explains why we accept suffering with a humble but determined heart: “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21).

—Eric Kampmann, Signposts

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