The loveliest thing about the creative attitude towards suffering is that not only do you develop your own character but you become a source of blessing and strength to others.
Someone may say, “I see now that suffering is not so much a problem to be explained, as a challenge to be met; but how am I to meet it?” There’s the rub. By what power am I to emerge victorious over every evil that threatens to defeat me?
The only answer that can suffice is God incarnate on a cross, there facing the very worst that suffering and evil have ever done upon the earth. Still He comes to us victorious over all the mystery of suffering and evil, and offers to make His triumph ours!
None of what I’ve said about suffering is adequate without the cross. None of those lights will meet the need of a grief-stricken mother.
The answers so far have difficulties. If suffering brings blessing, why work for its abolition? Couldn’t have God brought us to the same goal by some less tragic road? Suffering may produce character but its obvious that it doesn’t always happen.
So ultimately no explanation sufficiently explains because that’s not what we need. We need VICTORY over it. It is not to elaborate a theory; it is to lay hold upon a power. An explanation cannot bear the pain itself. And that is why God gave us Christ.
So how does the cross transform this age-long mystery? God is in it with you! Christ stands besides you through the darkness. And in fact is so much closer to you than the closest friend. He is IN you! Your sufferings are his sufferings.
Remember this: if God is in it with you, sharing your suffering, it is also true that you are in it with God, sharing His redemptive activity and His victory.
So what suffering does, when it comes to you, is to give you a chance to cooperate with God. Every person that takes their personal griefs and troubles and offers these things up on the altar alongside the sacrifice of Jesus, is sharing constructively in that eternal passion of God by which all humanity shall at last find healing and peace.
There was victory at the cross for Christ; and God wants you to know that there can be victory at every cross for you.