From the Hills: When Suffering Touches Those Who Love God

By Sylvia Peterson
Posted 3/11/22

Sometimes we cannot avoid the suffering that engulfs us. Two things are troubling my heart this week.   

First, I am watching Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Innocent people …

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From the Hills: When Suffering Touches Those Who Love God

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Sometimes we cannot avoid the suffering that engulfs us. Two things are troubling my heart this week.   

First, I am watching Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Innocent people — many of them mothers and children — being forced from their homes and running for their lives. Others are being murdered in a war that by all accounts, shouldn’t happen. Such massive human suffering is impossible for me to comprehend.  

And second, our big elderly cat, Sylvester, is really sick. We’ve been back and forth to the veterinary office for three days. No diagnosis is evident in his tests. Intravenous fluids are the only thing keeping him hydrated. Sylvester looks at Husband and me with his sad, green eyes as if to say, “If you love me, fix this.” And I can’t.

I can’t avoid feeling heart-sick over the war in Ukraine and I can’t fix Sylvester the Cat. So I lay awake at night, pour out my heart to God, and search for Him amidst the suffering. I don’t understand why God isn’t using His sovereignty to do the things that are important to me this week. 

Most of us (at one time or another) cling to the hopeful expectation that once we are saved, evil won’t interrupt our lives ever again. The ancient Hebrews believed that suffering and illness were the justified result of sin. 

After Satan took away Job’s loved ones and everything he owned, Job’s friends came to comfort him. That didn’t last long. When Job refused to blame God for his trouble, they criticized Job. Surely God wouldn’t allow such tragedy to occur in the life of a righteous man, would He? 

It seems like following Jesus should protect us from all the situations that cause suffering. As we align our character with scripture, the result should be less disappointment, fewer head colds, and pets who live forever. All of us should have homes that are safe, with comfortable beds, warm blankets and food to eat. 

However, nothing in scripture suggests that Jesus is a “get out of jail free” card. Life isn’t a lovely afternoon playing Monopoly with Mr. Rogers. Quite the contrary. Sometimes there are wars that murder and displace innocent people. Sometimes our beloved pets get sick; they even die. Life isn’t consistently “fair.”

Why then, does God allow suffering in the lives of those who love Him? There are several answers. One is found in John 9:1-7.



Jesus and his disciples passed by a man who had been blind since birth. They asked, “Teacher, whose sin made this man to be born blind? Was it the sin of this man or the sin of his parents?” 

Jesus answered, “The sin of this man or the sin of his parents did not make him to be born blind. He was born blind so the work of God would be seen in him.” Then Jesus spit on the ground. He mixed it with dust and put that mud on the eyes of the blind man, saying, “Go and wash in the pool of Siloam.” The man went away and washed. When he came back, he could see. (John 9:1-7)

The country of Ukraine is positioned for God’s miraculous intervention: politically, economically and individually in the lives of its people. Sylvester the Cat waits for a miracle also.   

Evangelist Billy Graham said, “Today’s world is said to be multiplying crises all around us. But we must never forget that, for the gospel, each crisis is an opportunity.” 

Miracles are God’s response to our anguish.   

“God whispers to us in our well-being; He shouts to us in suffering.” C.S. Lewis

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Sylvia Peterson is former co-pastor for Bald Hill Community Church and the author of “The Red Door: Where Hurt and Holiness Collide,” which can be purchased at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. She and her husband are chaplains for the Bald Hills Fire Department. You can email her at sylviap7@comcast.net.

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