The existence of human suffering is one of the most convincing arguments the atheist has (or so he thinks). If there is a God, and if He is as powerful and as loving as the Bible says, then why do innocent people suffer?
This is a good question. James 1:2-4 provides an answer. "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."
We are all going to suffer at some time during our lives. It may come in various forms and in various degrees, but it will come. What should we do when these times of suffering come upon us?
Some people complain, blame others (including God), become bitter, strike back, seek revenge, become depressed, or give up on people and on life. What God wants us to do when we suffer is to look for the good that He intends to bring out of it (James 5:11). When we suffer through "various trials" our faith is being tested. It is through such experiences that we learn "patience" and mature as Christians, becoming "perfect and complete, lacking nothing."
Wisdom and spiritual maturity are shown in one's ability to look beyond the pain of the immediate trial. Instead of succumbing to feelings of anger, sorrow and confusion, we must realize that our faith is being tested. It is during these times that God, others, and ourselves will find out what kind of a person we really are. It is through this kind of process that God will make a more perfect and complete person out of us - if we will let Him.
Peter said that suffering saints should look to Jesus as an example in suffering: "For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously" (1 Peter 2:21-23, emphasis mine- HR).
Experiencing trials does not give us a license to exhibit any sinful behavior. It is not a time to render evil for evil. It is a time to cling unto God and pass the hour of trial. Our faith is being tested. Will we pass the test?