You learn things through suffering that you won’t learn; you can’t learn any other way.
Consider the story of Joseph in Genesis (Gen 37-50). Why was it necessary for there to be so much suffering in Joseph’s life? His father Jacob poisoned his own family by preferring his sons Joseph and Benjamin over his other ten sons and made them murderously bitter.
Later Joseph is beaten by his brothers, left for dead, and then sold into slavery (worse than death). He first serves as a slave in Potiphar’s house, is wrongfully accused and then spends 13 years in prison. He is then unfairly forgotten there. Finally, at long last, Joseph is restored, and put in charge of Egypt. He is reconciled to his brothers and the book of Genesis ends with this masterful stroke: Joseph forgives his brothers saying, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” (Gen. 50: 20)
But why so much suffering? Couldn’t we have taken care of this the way it happens in Touched By An Angel? Why doesn’t God, or even a messenger of God arrive in a brilliant flash back in Genesis 37 and say, “Jacob, you are ruining your family. Stop it! And you brothers, you are horribly bitter. This will lead you into murder. Stop it! And Joseph, stop being so arrogant or you are going to get thrown in a pit. Oh, and by the way there is going to be a drought in about 10 years so start saving now or you are going to starve.”
That’s it! How long would that take? 30 minutes? Why can’t God work like that? Why can’t He brief us on what needs to change? If God is working through disasters like this for our benefit then why can’t He make it work out another way?
The really meaningful lessons in life have to be learned the hard way. Nobody ever learned they were a sinner by being told.
You have to be shown.
I’m sure you’ve got people telling you all the time that God loves you (If you go to my church, I tell you that just about every time I speak), but you don’t really believe it. At least you don’t live like you do!
You don’t really believe this until you have suffered enough to become absolutely sure that God has abandoned you only to find out that you were wrong. Then you believe it. And even then, after all that, you have to be shown this again and again and again and again.
That’s why God sends us ‘dark nights of the soul‘. It’s so that we can preach the gospel to each other. It’s so that we can preach the gospel to ourselves! God loves you so much that sent His one and only son to die so that you could live eternally. (John 3: 16) God loves you so much that He made His perfect sinless Son take the blame for every sin we ever committed so that we could be granted right standing before God. (2 Cor 5: 21) God loves you so much that while you were still an enemy of God, Jesus died on the cross in the hope that you would respond to the gospel. (Rom 5: 8 )
The Gospel is not just a set of doctrines, or a series of steps. The Gospel is the fact that God initiated; God accomplished. God made a way for us to be reconciled when there was no way.
You have sorrow in this life so that you would believe the Gospel.