How to Find Purpose in Your Suffering

Gisela Yohannan

Updated Mar 23, 2015
How to Find Purpose in Your Suffering
Here is how to make sense of our lives when pain and suffering happen.

 “Lord, why do You lead me through such painful experiences to learn a certain spiritual truth? Do You have to let me taste such difficulty and so much hurt just to understand You? Couldn’t You have done it an easier way?”

I was sitting on my bed, thinking about the months past, in one way grateful for the things I learned, in another wondering why God chose such a hard way. I was not complaining, just asking the One who I know loves me the most.

Very lovingly, the Lord explained His reason to me that afternoon.

When a teacher is standing in front of a classroom and lectures, the students will at best keep part of his lecture in their minds; the rest might be in their notebooks. For the exam, the students will learn their notes by heart, so they will be able to recite the correct answers. Yet if you ask them 5 or 10 years later about the same lesson, they probably will have forgotten 95 percent of it.

The Classroom of Life

The Holy Spirit is our teacher. His job is not to give us some classroom lectures on holiness, worship and righteousness, but to build our lives. It takes more than a lecture to shape our whole being into the image of Christ! This is God’s ultimate purpose for every believer.

There are, of course, many different teaching methods. Yet the most lasting, but painful, way of learning is by experience. A child will remember for the rest of his life that fire is hot after he has touched a flame only once. The more difficult an experience, the greater the permanent impact it makes on our lives.

God chose this practical but lasting way of teaching for His own Son: “He learned obedience from the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8).

Jesus selected this type of teaching for His disciples: They spent three years walking with Him, observing His life and learning from each daily situation. Jesus did not hand out preprinted lectures to them. Instead, He used normal events, circumstances and difficulties to teach them spiritual truth by experience, which resulted in completely changed hearts.

The Holy Spirit chooses the same practical approach for us as well. He knows our human frame, our forgetfulness, our distant, insensitive heart toward the spiritual world, our darkened understanding and our inability to convert spiritual truth into practical, everyday life.

A Customized Curriculum 

When the Holy Spirit accepted His job as our Teacher, He looked very carefully at each of us, and then He designed an individual curriculum for every born-again, redeemed person.

When He put my textbook together, He considered my ability to learn, my life span, my weaknesses, my fears, my background, my culture, my former lifestyle and the plan God has for me as a believer. In my textbook, He included all the aspects of the nature of Jesus.

So when the Holy Spirit guides me through the many lessons and at the end of my life completes the last page of my textbook with me, I should have come to the fullness and maturity of Christ. I should now look like Him.

When the Lord saved us, He gave us His joy, peace, assurance of salvation and eternal life. But somehow in our minds, we often expect God to remove all the difficulties and hardships of our life from now on, so as believers we can enjoy an easier, more comfortable life than the rest of mankind. But Jesus did not make such a promise. He only promised to be with us always. In fact, He told us in advance that we would suffer persecution and trials—as He did—if we are to become His disciples.

This actually means that aside from the difficulties a “natural” (unsaved) person faces, we will be in a continuous spiritual battle, one that is not against flesh and blood. Yet in the midst of all of this, Jesus assures us of peace that is not of this world and power that enables us to be more than conquerors.

So the Holy Spirit carefully uses everything that comes along the road of my life, as well as the spiritual battles in which I am involved, as lessons designed just for me, to conform me closer to the image of Christ.

If I understand this truth and daily, consciously remember it, I will learn to view my trials, disappointments, persecutions and victories as opportunities for the Holy Spirit to build and mold my life.

Then, even during the most difficult and painful times in my life that strip me of all that I thought I was, I will be able to say, “Yes, Lord,” trusting Him, knowing He is bringing me at that moment one step closer to look like Him.

It is Worth it!

But why should the Holy Spirit go through all this trouble to try to change me so entirely? Why can’t He be satisfied with my salvation?

The Bible declares that soon a day will be coming, after we have finished our life on earth, when Jesus wants to present us before His Father.

On that day, He will take my hand in His and lead me before the throne of God. Jesus will then testify before the Father and all the angels of heaven that I am bought by His blood and that I am His workmanship, completed, lacking nothing, truly a part of Him—His body.

It will be the most precious time ever when my Savior confesses me before His Father and all of heaven. How thankful I will be at that moment for my Teacher, the Holy Spirit, and for every lesson in my textbook.

That day I will stand before the throne of God, not only washed by the blood of the Lamb but also clothed with Christ’s righteousness and His very nature, which make me totally acceptable to the Father. I will look at my Lord and realize the greatness of His love for me, to allow me to go through painful teaching so I can share the glory of His nature for all eternity.

Gisela Yohannan has ministered to thousands of Christian workers in many countries, teaching God’s Word with deep insight and practical life application. She has published four books. Her writings candidly reveal her tears and joys and offer abundant hope that God’s promises are always bigger than our circumstances. Gisela is married to well-known mission leader and author, K.P. Yohannan, who is the founder and international director of Gospel for Asia. Their two grown children are both serving the Lord with their families. You can download Gisela’s entire book, Broken for a Purpose, for free at