In Acts 9 the story of Paul’s conversion is told. While he was actively persecuting believers he had an encounter with Christ. Jesus appeared in a flash of blinding light which threw Saul to his knees, then he spoke to him, giving him instructions. Saul, who was a very confident, self reliant man was left blind, incapacitated, and having to submit to the help of others.
While talking about this account with a close friend one point really struck us, Saul’s suffering here was caused by Christ, intentionally, and this suffering that was caused was a merciful act. Saul in his righteousness was doomed, by causing this blindness he got Saul’s attention and gave him an opportunity to rely on others, and to obey Jesus. He would be healed but first he had to respond to Jesus, he had to go into the city and wait for further instructions. He had to submit to Jesus, and the very people he had been persecuting. However first he had to undergo suffering, and that suffering was the vehicle by which he received grace and his heart was softened.
Now what I am not saying is we are all Paul and any suffering we undergo comes from God. This specific event happened in history, this was how Christ got Saul’s attention and redeemed him. We all find ourselves in a broken world. Some suffering is a result of that fact, because sin is present it affects us. However here is just one example of God using suffering to bless us. Also it seems to me he uses suffering that is a result of sin, intended sin from others to do his eventual good. An example of this can be found in Joseph. His brothers intended evil in selling him off as a slave, and God redeemed that act by using him to save his family and the entire region from a time of famine.
What I do want to point out is that God is always in control, suffering does happen, will happen but God can be glorified in spite of it, or through it. It can cause us to turn to God, at times it removes stuff in our lives we wouldn’t give up or turn from otherwise, and when we go through it while glorifying God it can be a testimony to others. Also our response always needs to be that of submission to Christ, and obedience to his word.