The Purpose of Suffering
Sometimes it feels as though the Lord is hiding from our situations. We are afflicted and we cry out to Him but hear nothing. The psalmist wrote, “Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Ps. 10:1).
Can you identify with these words? Have you asked these same questions from your heart? Many of us do and most of us have. If God is sovereign and able to rescue us from our struggles, why does it seem that He sometimes is far away and hearing nothing of our pain?
One reason is found here in the remaining words of the Psalm. God has a purpose in the prosperity of the wicked and the suffering of the weak. But first, let us understand the depths of the wicked and the mercy of God.
The Psalmist says that, “In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor” (Ps. 10:2). They are greedy for gain and they curse and renounce the Lord (Ps. 10:3). Their thoughts are, “There is no God” (Ps. 10:4). Their “ways prosper at all times” (Ps. 10:5). They say in their hearts, “I shall not be moved; throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity” (Ps. 10:6).
The wicked prosper and their arrogance is stroked with a comb. Their pride grows stronger and stronger. Their ignorance abounds on itself. The more they do, the more they succeed and the more wicked they become. Meanwhile, God is seemingly “out of [their] sight” (Ps. 10:5).
The wicked’s mouth is “filled with cursing and deceit and oppression” and with “mischief and iniquity” (Ps. 10:7). They spend their time ambushing the villages, murdering the innocent, watching the helpless, seizing the poor, crushing the weak (Ps. 10:8-10). And they say to themselves, “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it” (Ps. 10:11).
In anguish, the Psalmist cries out, “O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more” (Ps. 10:17-18).
Did you see it? Did you see the purpose tucked in this short psalm? The wicked afflict the helpless. They grow stronger in their wickedness. The helpless cry out to God, turn to him, and entrust themselves to his judgement. They grow stronger in their humility and trust in God.
In case the purpose of the prosperity of the wicked is not clear to you, I’ll quote the words from Paul, “I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10).
When the wicked prosper, the weak entrust.