When Suffering Turns Your World Upside Down


When you are young and healthy, it is easy to think that you are in control of your life and that you are the master of your own fate. But circumstances can quickly arise that clearly demonstrate that all human beings are finite creatures with genuine limitations, boundaries, and physical-mental-emotional vulnerabilities. Ultimately, suffering in its various forms overtakes all human beings and shows us to be temporal, mortal creatures.

In this article, I would like to discuss the problem of suffering and how it can wreak havoc on a person’s faith in Christ. I would like to propose that Christians need to know that suffering awaits all of us, and believers in Christ need to prepare for difficult times in their lives. In fact, the church should be helping Christ’s followers to build a vibrant faith and character that can withstand the assault of trials and difficulties that inevitably come. Allow me to share with you some important things I learned from a period of suffering I went through some years ago.

Lessons Learned from My Own Suffering

When I went through a life-threatening illness some 15 years ago, I felt like I had been swept away in a powerful ocean current. Since my illness affected my brain (multiple abscessed brain lesions caused by a rare bacterial infection), my mental state and thinking were scattered and my basic equilibrium was off. Physically, emotionally, and intellectually, I felt pulled and yanked in various directions. The experience turned my life and the life of my family upside down. I was left feeling at first numb and then overwhelmed in my total being.

Because my brain was under assault by the lesions, thinking was very difficult. I couldn’t rely fully on the strong mind that the Lord had given me—one that I had regularly utilized when things were previously tough in my life. I simply had to intuitively hold on to my deepest spiritual beliefs while the current of illness tossed me to and fro. There were times of greater mental clarity, but the illness had taken hold of me, and I attempted to hold on for dear life. As a deeply independent person, I didn’t like the deep neediness and insecurity I felt, but I clung to support wherever I could find it.

Slowly, my spiritual grounding began to kick in, and I fought the illness to a draw, even though I prepared myself for the possible eventuality of death. I told my family and friends that if I lived, I would remain with the dear family I loved—but if I died, I would journey to the city of God and encounter the Lord face to face (Revelation 22:1–5). By God’s sovereign grace, the prayers of many people, and the providence of good medicine, I fully recovered. I had a strong faith when I encountered this catastrophic health crisis, but the sickness taxed all of my spiritual resources to their limits. However, through this difficult trial, my faith somehow became more resilient.

Preparing for the Tough Times

The big crises of life can serve to overwhelm one’s spiritual resources. Of course, the Lord promises that his love and grace are sufficient for all of life’s challenges (Romans 5:3–4, 8:38–39; Philippians 4:6–7), including death (John 11:25–26). But many people fail to truly recognize that major suffering is not a matter of if, but when. Thus, preparing oneself through prayer, Scripture, the sacraments, virtue, and spiritual warfare is prudent and necessary to undergo significant suffering.

Why would a good and all-powerful God allow suffering to exist in the world? This tough question has troubled people throughout every era of history, but I believe the historic Christian worldview provides good answers. The central apologetics answer is that God brings about greater moral and spiritual goods (Romans 8:28) through allowing incidents of evil, pain, and suffering.

When I’m struggling with life’s challenges, I remind myself that my Lord Jesus Christ also suffered. And because he suffered, he can serve as my empathetic high priest (Hebrews 4:14–16). Jesus Christ invites all of us:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

–Matthew 11:28 (ESV)


  One thought on “When Suffering Turns Your World Upside Down

  1. November 21, 2017 at 9:33 am

    Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging.

    • November 21, 2017 at 9:40 am

      Thanks for the reblog, Vincent.

      Happy Thanksgiving!

      Ken Samples

      • November 21, 2017 at 4:33 pm

        You’re very welcome Ken and Happy Thanksgiving to you too my friend 🦃

  2. jamesbradfordpate
    November 21, 2017 at 11:20 am

    Reblogged this on James' Ramblings.

    • November 21, 2017 at 11:36 am

      Thank you for the Reblog, James.

      Ken Samples

      • jamesbradfordpate
        November 21, 2017 at 2:06 pm

        My pleasure, Ken! Thank you for sharing your story. I remember you from some cassettes my Dad has, on which Desmond Ford and Walter Martin were talking about Seventh-Day Adventism.

      • November 21, 2017 at 2:18 pm

        Wow, James. My time with Ford and Martin goes back a ways. Best regards.

  3. March 20, 2018 at 11:46 am

    I don’t know where to post this question, but will submit it here on chance it fits. Recently due to personal experience, I researched Psychopathy. Secular psychology researchers claim it is not a mental illness, but a toxic mix of attitudinal and behavioral characteristics. All say that psychopaths are not capable of human empathy. They cannot become genuinely contrite about their sins. Psychopaths are chameleons and experts of psychic manipulations of the people they target. They claim the source of this malady is a combination of genetic and environmental influences. They claim the occurrence stats are 1 in 100 in general populace, 1 in 50 in occupational and organizational work spaces, 1 in 25 in prison populations.

    Clearly these humanoids are a threat to our “love of existentiality”. Are they the demon possessed written about by the Apostles in the New Testament? How should they be viewed from a Christian and/or Heavenly Kingdom citizen standpoint? When questioned by his disciples about the greater difficulty of some of their attempts at exorcism, or removal of demonic spirits, Christ told them that some cases require much more fasting and prayer. Were the subjects who resisted their efforts, psychopaths?

    • March 20, 2018 at 2:29 pm

      Thanks, Clay.

      Ken Samples

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