What Is the Biblical Value of Suffering?

( [email protected] ) Sep 10, 2013 10:23 AM EDT

Hundreds of Syrians are apparently killed by chemical weapons, and the attempt to protect others from that fate threatens to kill many more.

According to The New York Times, a child perishes with her mother in a tornado in Oklahoma, the month after an 8-year-old is slain by a bomb in Boston

Runaway trains claim dozens of lives in otherwise placid Canada and Spain.

At least 46 people are killed in a string of coordinated bombings aimed at an ice cream shop, bus station and famous restaurant in Baghdad, according to The New York Times.

Does the torrent of suffering ever abate - and can one possibly find any point in suffering?

Many Christians have long tried to suffer well for the sake of the Gospel - and for the promise that suffering is somehow for God's glory, our good and conforms us into the image of Jesus Christ, says Romans 8:28-29.

Occasionally, we see that suffering can be in the eye of the beholder -- our ignorant projection, according to The New York Times. The quadriplegic asks you not to extend sympathy to her; she's happy, even if her form of pain is more visible than yours.

Matt Chandler is one pastor who has long tried to suffer well, by God's grace.

He would have never ask for such a trial as what he got on Thanksgiving Day 2009, when an advanced brain tumor gave him a grand mal seizure in his home.

Yet, in some, ways he welcomed his brain tumor, according to an Associated Press article published in USA Today in 2010. He says he feels grateful that God has counted him worthy to endure it. He has always preached that God will bring both joy and suffering but is only recently learning to experience the latter.

Since all this began, Chandler says he has asked "why me?" just once, in a moment of weakness. There was one moment when he saw a picture on a Christmas card of a man who chronically cheated on his wife and thought, "Why not that guy?" He says it was wicked to think that.

He, his family and his church - The Village, with several campuses in North Texas -- are still praying that God will continue healing him, even though all of his scans are clear of cancer and he's outlived doctors' projections. He wants to grow old, to walk his two daughters down the aisle and see his son become a better athlete than he ever was, according to the article in USA Today.

Whatever happens, he says, is God's will, and God has his reasons. For Chandler, that does not mean waiting for his fate. It means fighting for his life.

His theology teaches that all men are wicked, that human beings have offended a loving and sovereign God, and that God saves through Jesus' death, burial and resurrection - not because people do good deeds.

"If he suffers well, that might be the most important sermon he's ever preached," Mark Driscoll, pastor of Seattle's Mars Hill Church and a friend of Chandler's, said after Chandler's diagnosis in 2009.