Bene Augusta dos Anjos is from the Central Brazil Union.

I. Introduction

"Why do good people suffer?" This question has baffled people for centuries. The problem of a loving God and human illness was raised long ago in the book of Job. One man struggled with this question when his wife became ill with arthritis. She suffered greatly. At times, the husband resented the limitations caused by his wife's illness and confinement. There were moments when he even questioned God's ways. Sometimes friends and members of the family were not only unsympathetic, they were openly critical. All of this speaks of the mystery which surrounds suffering. However, there are positive lessons.

II. One learns that trouble, sickness, and grief come to all

We think subconsciously that if we do God's will, tithe our income, and serve people that nothing tragic will happen to us. Jesus promised, "In the world ye shall have tribulation" (John 16:33). There are some things all of us have to bear. Good and bad experiences come to all. They usually balance out in the long run; but if not, one day God will reveal the reason and reward the faithful.

III. One learns something about patience

The Bible says, "Glory in tribulations ... tribulation worketh patience" (Rom. 5:3). Patience means the power to hold out, to refuse to quit, and keep on keeping on. It is the ability to go on when you feel like giving up.

IV. One learns to be more compassionate toward the sick

Many people think of sickness as weakness. It is hard to be sympathetic with people who are ill. People whose diseases leave them bedridden and in constant pain often feel guilty, for sickness was a part of the curse on mankind in the fall. Paul called his thorn "the messenger of Satan" (2 Cor. 12:7). Healing and good health are the will of God for His people. However, trials can minister to our spiritual growth (James 1:2-4). Christ went about healing the sick and showing compassion. Caring is Christlike.

V. One learns the reality of God's love

There is healing power in love; but in working with emotions, there is a process. Fear, guilt, frustration, and depression do not come all at once. Neither does healing from grief come all at once. It can be a painful experience. We wonder "If God loves me, why did this happen?"

If you have struggled really struggled down in the depths of your soul with the word "why," you're in good company. Job did (Job 3:11); the psalmist did too (Ps. 73:3-14). When Jesus was hanging on the cross, He asked, "My God, why?" (Mark 15:34).

After a minister and his son had laid their wife and mother to rest in a distant place, they made the long ride back home in the funeral coach. Being very tired they went to bed early, going to their separate rooms. In a little while, the son came into his father's room crying. He asked if he could sleep in his mother's bed. He tried to go to sleep, but was still suffering an awful sense of loneliness and desolation. In the darkness he asked, "Daddy, is your face turned toward me?" The time came in the days ahead when the minister said there was not a star in the sky of his life. He came to the place where he said, "Father, it is so dark, I cannot see You. Is Your face turned toward me?"

VI. Conclusion

At the heart of the baffling mystery of disease, pain, and grief, we can be sure of God's unchanging love.

VII. Illustration

Paul doesn't just say, "We rejoice in the midst of suffering," period. He says, "We rejoice in the midst of suffering because it produces something." What does it produce? Look at the next phrase in your study Bibles. "We rejoice in the midst of our suffering, knowing that suffering produces endurance. Endurance produces character." Character is the blockbuster term here in Romans chapter 5. That's the Greek term "dokimas," and it literally means "someone or something that has been put to the test and has measured up." If you have ever traveled to the Middle East, you may have visited a potter and seen a vessel which has been through the furnace, through the fire, yet hasn't cracked. It hasn't broken; it comes out whole. It comes out complete. When you turn that vessel over, on the bottom you see stamped "DOKIAMAS" meaning "approved." This is a vessel of character. It has withstood the test of the furnace where it has been refined, and it hasn't broken; it is whole, complete. That's character. -Ron Lee Davis. See: Rom .5:1-5; Isa. 48:10; 1 Peter 1:7.

Bene Augusta dos Anjos is from the Central Brazil Union.