As detailed in last week’s sermon, God’s general purpose for bringing Christians through suffering is to conform them “to the image of his Son” (Rom 8:29). This purpose of suffering is evident in Jesus’ life. Hebrews 2:10 specifies that God the Father brought God the Son into and through suffering for Jesus’ sanctification. It reads, “For it was fitting that he [God the Father], for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation [Jesus] perfect through suffering.” If God the Father sanctified Christ through suffering (which he did), we should expect the same.
This answer from Rom 8:29 to the question “Why do Christians suffer?” is important for Christians to grasp. Nevertheless, it important to remember that Rom 8:29 is a general answer. It is not specific. God has numerous reasons (maybe even an eternal amount) why he acts. It’s simplistic to think that God executes his will—in this case, sanctifying Christians through suffering—for only one purpose. While it is important to believe Rom 8:29, it’s also important to remember that Rom 8:29 does not tell us everything.
In suffering, Christians are left wanting more than what Rom 8:29 says. We don’t just want general answers; we want specific answers! “Why did this specific event happen in this specific way?” “Did it have to be this way, God?” “Couldn’t you have sanctified me in a different way, Lord? One that wasn’t so hard?” These are all valid questions.
God has chosen to not reveal to us the answer(s) to specific questions of suffering. Instead, he leaves us in the dark. What we are left with is an abyss of divine mystery. Christian theologians have termed this abyss “God’s incomprehensibility.” Divine incomprehensibility means that complete comprehension of God—his character, his works, and his ways—lies beyond human capability. God can be truly known; he cannot be fully known. His thoughts and ways will always be “higher” than ours (Isa 55:9). The specific reason(s) why God lead us into suffering will lie beyond our grasp.
And, yet, God commands us to find comfort in his incomprehensibility. God calls us to trust him, even when we when don’t understand why we suffer. God wants you to find refuge in his infinite wisdom, not in your limited perspective. God is enough for you—even in his mystery.