Ever since the fateful day and event recorded in Genesis 3, the human race has had to face the issues of health, suffering, and death. Reading and studying the Scriptures brings us vital perspectives on these realities of life. We should be grateful for these perspectives, because our human intellect and experience may leave us in deep trouble attempting to understand, explain, or live with traumatic life experiences.
Our text tells us trials and testing are “common to man.” Peter tells us “knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world helps us resist the enemy of our souls and remain steadfast in the faith (1 Pet. 5:9). Our Lord can and may protect us or miraculously deliver us from these according to His sovereign purpose. But in all of the testing and trouble He allows, we rest in the fact the nature and severity of these are under His merciful control.
We should avoid the sad mistake of Job’s “friends,” thinking trials and crises of life are always an expression of God’s punitive displeasure. In his faith in God, Job learned the lesson the psalmist described: “You have enlarged me when I was in distress” (Psalm 4:1). Even tribulation may produce the Christ-like virtue of patience (Romans 5:3). The apostle Paul, in the affliction he had in his later years, found rather than removing it, as he prayed, God gave him grace to continue his life of serving and glorifying his Lord (2 Corinthians 12:9).
For the believer, death itself should be viewed in an entirely different light. Our risen Lord Jesus lives in the power of an endless life. That life — eternal life — He gives to His redeemed ones (John 10:28), and we will never perish. Physical death becomes “mortality swallowed up by life” (2 Corinthians 5:4) and brings us home with the Lord.
For the Christian, suffering and death are not a destination: they are part of a journey. We can travel the rough places in the path of life best by walking closely with our Good Shepherd, living in His word, and trusting Him for grace and enablement to honor Him.