Human suffering has been around since the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:16-19). The causes are many: sin, accidents, natural disasters, illness, wars, violation of natural laws, hatred, persecution, jealousy, betrayal of confidence, death, etc. All people experience it to some degree and in various ways. There is no escape from the experience of suffering. Some people are embittered by it and lose their faith in God. Others look into the word of God so as to understand suffering and how to respond to it.
There is considerable divine revelation available to us about life's trials in God's holy writ. The knowledge and understanding we gain from His word can help us immensely in facing the trials of life. Ultimately, Satan is the cause of all suffering. Job's afflictions came from Satan and were a test of his faith. James recorded, "My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience" (James 5:10). The sufferings of Elijah, Micaiah, Jeremiah, and the apostle Paul were messengers of Satan to dissuade them in the Lord's work (cf. 2 Cor. 12:7).
When we view any trial or suffering as a test of our faith and determine that we will not allow it to defeat us, we can turn Satan's intention for our suffering back on him and be strengthened by it rather than be discouraged or defeated by it. God reveals that we can learn the precious and necessary lessons of patience when we endure trials. James wrote, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience" (James 1:2-3). With divine revelation of the mystery of suffering, the apostles could rejoice when they had been jailed and beaten for preaching Christ (Acts 5:41).
Sickness and death are hard to understand apart from God's revelation. Often, people blame God, or sometimes themselves. The death of Job's children was not because of any sin of Job, nor his children. It was the work of Satan in an attempt to destroy Job's faith. The blindness of the man in John 9 was not the result of his sin, or of the sin of his parents. However, Jesus used his unfortunate circumstance to demonstrate the glory of God. Although we may not be able to miraculously overcome suffering and trials, the glory of God's peace can be demonstrated by those who have placed their hope in Him. Whether sickness or death is caused by one's own misdoing or by an unfortunate circumstance, one can turn that stone of trial into a stepping stone toward developing stronger faith, patience, and righteous determination. Rather than viewing life as a struggle that we are ultimately going to lose, we are to view life as a struggle that we will win - even over death itself (1 Cor. 15:53-57).
The only way we can win the struggle of life is with the strength of the Lord. In humble submission and obedience to God we prepare ourselves for godly living, faithful worship, and service to God. Although life is full of trial and trouble, in the end, we can be victorious, if we will abide in Christ and His will.
It is certain that we will stand before God in judgment (Heb. 9:17). That we can hear Him say, "Well done" (Matt. 25:21), is also certain. We can be "more than conquerors through Him Who loved us" (Rom.8:35-37). Let us face life's troubles and trials with the knowledge of God's promises and the determination to glorify Him in the practice of His righteousness to His glory.