Doug Johnson: Suffering isn’t easy, but God will get you through it

Published 5:24 am Sunday, May 23, 2021

Margaret Sangster Phippen wrote that in the mid-1950s, her father, well-known British pastor, W. E. Sangster, began to notice some uneasiness in his throat and a dragging in his leg.

When he went to the doctor, he found he had an incurable disease that caused progressive muscular atrophy.

His muscles would gradually waste away, his voice would fail, his throat would soon become unable to swallow.

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Sangster threw himself into his work in British home missions, figuring he could still write and he would have even more time for prayer.

“Let me stay in the struggle, Lord,” he pleaded. “I don’t mind if I can no longer be a general but give me just a regiment to lead.”

He wrote articles and books and helped organize prayer cells throughout England.

Gradually Sangster’s legs became useless. His voice went completely.

But he could still hold a pen, shakily.

On Easter morning, just a few weeks before he died, he wrote a letter to his daughter.

In it, he said, “It is terrible to wake up on Easter morning and have no voice with which to shout, ‘He is risen!’ — but it would be still more terrible to have a voice and not want to shout.”

Many people wonder why God allows suffering and disease in the world.

I don’t have an easy answer for that, but I do know where suffering and disease came from.

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were faced with a choice, obey God and live or disobey God and die.

Seems like an easy choice, doesn’t it?

But Adam and Eve were tempted by the devil (in the form of a serpent), they ate the forbidden fruit and disobeyed God.

Their disobedience opened the door for the curse of sin upon the world — bringing suffering, disease, and death.

So we must not blame God for the suffering in the world, we must blame sin.

Some folks may ask “If sin brings suffering, then why do Christians suffer?”

Pastor F. B. Meyer wrote years ago, “The child of God is often called to suffer because there is nothing that will convince onlookers of the reality and power of true religion as suffering will do, when it is borne with Christian fortitude.”

The story of Job is a perfect example of how a righteous man deals with suffering.

The Bible tells us that Job was the richest man in the East.

He had 10 children and owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 donkeys, and a large number of servants.

The most important fact about Job was “…he was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” (Job 1:1 NIV)

One day, Satan decided he would try to make Job curse God and die.

So, Satan killed all of Job’s children in a freak accident, his oxen and donkeys were stolen, his sheep and servants were killed in a firestorm. (And you thought you were having a bad day!)

As if that wasn’t enough, Satan then struck Job with boils from his scalp to his feet.

Then Job did something amazing, “He fell to the ground in worship and said, ’Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.’” (Job 1:20-21 NIV)

Job did not blame God for the death of his children or his circumstances.

Instead, he decided to trust God even more. In the end, the Lord blessed him with 10 more children, gave him twice as much as he had before, and he lived to see his great-great-grandchildren! (Job 42:10-17)

So, when suffering comes your way, learn from W. E. Sangster and Job: keep your faith in the Lord and He will see you through!

Doug Johnson is the senior pastor at Raven Assembly of God in Raven, Virginia.