Does God Like Making You Suffer?

It’s okay, you can speak freely here. We’re all in this together. We’re like one big family, like the Olive Garden. Just take a moment and ponder the inspirational posters on my wall. Doesn’t that picture of a bald eagle flying through a rainbow send shivers down your spine? Listen to the soothing sound of the smooth jazz in the background (The Best of Kenny G). Take some deep, cleansing breaths. Out with Mr. Bad Air, in with Mr. Good Air. Good. Now touch your toes. Touch your elbow. Touch your toes with your elbow. You are now doing the Yoga form called “The You Look Ridiculous”. Trust me, I do this with all my clients.

Now answer this question: do you think God enjoys seeing you suffer?

Come on now, answer honestly! Yep, that’s what I thought. Me too. Now get rid of the posters and jazz and Yoga poses. Those never do any good anyway.

I admit, there are times when I believe God enjoys brining pain into my life. I know in my head that God works all things for good, and that I am supposed to rejoice always, and that nothing can blady, blady, blah. But deep down, I suspect God somehow enjoys seeing me suffer. I think of God as a drill sergeant. He makes me suffer because He knows it will ultimately be truly good for me (see Romans 8, etc.). But he also makes me suffer because he enjoys seeing me break down. I imagine that God enjoys breaking me.

But the reality is, God takes NO pleasure in my suffering. None. Zero. Nada. Lamentations 3:31-33 says:

For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men.

Commenting on this passage, Thomas Brooks says:

God takes no delight to afflict his children; it goes against the grain of his heart. It grieves him to be grievous to them; it pains him to punish then, and it is like death to him to strike them. He has no inclination or dispostion to the work of afflicting them…

I’m a dad. I love my children so much, and I do not take any pleasure in disciplining my children. There are times when I must discipline them, but it does not bring me any pleasure. Our heavenly father does not take any pleasure in causing us to suffer. He is not a cosmic sadist. Yes he uses suffering for our good. Yes he uses suffering to make us more like Jesus. Yes he works all of our sufferings for his glory and our good. But he does not enjoy breaking us. He does not take a perverted pleasure in seeing us brought to nothing. All suffering is the result of sin in the world (not necessarily personal sin, but the fact that sin is in the world).

How sad it must be for God when I think he enjoys hurting me. How hurtful it must be to him when I believe he enjoys orchestrating my suffering. His heart is tender toward me. His hands are gentle around me. It grieves him to be grievous to me. It is like death for him to strike me.

Scripture promises we will suffer. When we suffer, let’s not believe the Satanic lie that God somehow enjoys making us suffer. Nothing could be further from the truth. He ordains, orchestrates, and uses suffering. But he never, ever delights in causing suffering.

  • Jennifer Van Wierene

    I like this except for the poor attempt to make a joke out of therapy, as you don’t know exactly what we do…and this first paragraph perpetuates the myths out there in the Christian community about the field. I think you are an excellent writer with some great points and usually speak His truths and you can be really uplifting…I just wonder if you could do this without the tearing down of things you are unfamiliar with. Sincerely and with brotherly love, Jennifer

    • Jennifer Van Wierene

      *sisterly love…but you get what I mean. We are in care group together and you know my passion for God using me via this way in the world. I have shared my heart with you all about that and those under my care. I would just appreciate your support. I am thankful that you have a wide audience and I’m thankful for your love for the Lord.

      • Stephen Altrogge

        I'm sorry Jennifer, I apologize for the joke. Believe it or not, I honestly wasn't trying to poke fun at therapy. I was more just making a stupid joke. I really respect what you guys do, and am so grateful that you use your gifts for the glory of God. Personally, I think the Christian community needs to grow in understanding therapy, as well as the various forms of mental illness and psychosis that plague so many people in the church. So please forgive me. I really wasn't trying to take pot shots at therapy. My jokes were more aimed at the Olive Garden, inspirational posters, and Kenny G. But I can understand why you took it the way you did.

        Thanks for correcting me! Always feel free to.


        • Stephen Altrogge

          By the way, thank you for your gentle correction. I've been taking some hits lately so it was really refreshing to be corrected in a gentle manner!

          • Jennifer Van Wieren

            I could have been kinder or more gentle. I kinda jumped to post so forgive me for that. Thanks for your response. I could see how it’s probably hard to be a blogger and try to glorify God and have a sense of humor…it must be like walking on egg shells never knowing when you might step on someone’s toes and with such a huge audience that must happen a lot as we all have pet parts of Gods creation or thinking a on things that we are sensitive about. I will pray that people are gentle. I don’t like Kenny G either.

            • Lee Ann

              I would just like to chime in and say that I really respect how you both responded to each other here! This is was being a Christian is all about! We are going to do things that hurt others but its how we respond to that, that can really showcase God’s love! Stephen, I appreciate your humility here so much! And Jen, I appreciate your humility and honesty! Thanks for your example guys!

  • Matt E.

    Awesome post! Thanks.

  • Kwame

    Very Uplifting. Grace to You!

  • Gary.


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