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Gracious purposes in planned suffering

God works "all things according to the counsel of his will" (Ephesians 1:11), even trials and tribulation and suffering. Since "we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28), we can be confident that even in suffering God has purposed and planned everything for our good.

One of these purposes is that we comfort others who have likewise suffered:

"If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer." - 2 Corinthians 1:6

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Our salvation is founded on the predestined suffering of the Son

"... for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place." - Acts 4:27-28
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Joyful and expected suffering

  • "...we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." - Romans 5:3-5 (NKJV)
  • "...that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead." - Philippians 3:10
  • "...though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered." - Hebrews 5:8



  • "When confronted by the sheer savage immensity of worldly suffering--when we see the entire littoral rim of the Indian Ocean strewn with tens of thousands of corpses, a third of them children's--no Christian is licensed to utter odious banalities about God's inscrutable counsels or blasphemous suggestions that all this mysteriously serves God's good ends. We are permitted only to hate death and waste and the imbecile forces of chance that shatter living souls, to believe that creation is in agony in its bonds, to see this world as divided between two kingdoms--knowing all the while that it is only charity that can sustain us against 'fate,' and that must do so until the end of days." - David B. Hart, "Tremors of Doubt: What kind of God would allow a deadly tsunami?" (Wall Street Journal, December 31, 2004)

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