How to Make Sense of Suffering in the Christian Life

Why do so many Christians suffer; and why do so many wicked people prosper? Why do the wicked appear blessed with riches and an easy life? Why are so many Christians in the world living below the poverty line?

In the United States, many of us are often left unprepared for suffering, not able to make sense of how God could allow our hardships. We live in the land of the prosperity gospel. We grow up learning that hard work leads to success and that the unsuccessful are either lazy, lack talent, or the will to rise above their circumstances and achieve the American dream. Then tragedy happens and we realize the truth. Hard work doesn’t always lead to success. The poor aren’t always poor because they are lazy. The wicked cheat, steal, and lie at the expense of the poor to get ahead. Christians—whom God has promised to bless—suffer all kinds of hardships.

I remember learning these truths at a time when my life was falling apart through reading the book of Matthew and seeing two very important passages. The first was in the opening of Jesus’ sermon on the mount:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:3–12)

The second was Jesus’ words about anxiety in his sermon on the mount:

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:25–27, 33–33)

These words began to change the way that I thought about suffering and blessing, opening up so much in Scripture that I had failed to notice.

In this clip, Dr. Michael Horton and Adriel Sanchez explain how to make sense of suffering in the Christian life. I hope their thoughts remind you of God’s faithfulness and help you to endure whatever you may be experiencing in your life.

Check out more of our video content on the Core Christianity YouTube channel.

Photo of Silverio Gonzalez

Silverio Gonzalez

Silverio Gonzalez is a husband, father, and staff writer at Core Christianity. He earned his B.A. in Philosophy from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his Master of Divinity from Westminster Seminary California. 

Related Resources

Go Deeper

A continually growing library of Bible Studies to answer the most vital questions facing Christians today.

Get the Bible Studies

Core Studies