The Higher Purposes of Life’s Storms and Suffering

Trial and tribulation
God has a higher purpose for suffering

But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.

Matthew 14:24

Nobody likes to go through trials and tribulations, but what a difference it can make in our life when we see God in the midst of them! Bible commentator Warren Wiersbe explains God’s higher purposes from a biblical perspective.

Learning from 2 Kinds of Storms
Matthew 14:24

There are two kinds of storms: storms of correction, when God disciplines us; and storms of perfection, when God helps us to grow. Jonah was in a storm because he disobeyed God and had to be corrected. The disciples were in a storm because they obeyed Christ and had to be perfected. Jesus had tested them in a storm before, when He was in the boat with them (Matt. 8:23-27). But now He tested them by being out of the boat.

Many Christians have the mistaken idea that obedience to God’s will produces “smooth sailing.” But this is not true. “In the world you shall have tribulation,” Jesus promised (John 16:33). When we find ourselves in the storm because we have obeyed the Lord, we must remember that He brought us here and He can care for us.

Jesus always comes to us in the storms of life. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you” (Isa. 43:2, nasb). He may not come at the time we think He should come, because He knows when we need Him the most. He waited until the ship was as far from land as possible, so that all human hope was gone. He was testing the disciples’ faith, and this meant removing every human prop.

Experiencing God’s Comfort in the Midst of Suffering
2 Corinthians 1:7

The subject of human suffering is not easy to understand, for there are mysteries to the working of God that we will never grasp until we get to heaven. Sometimes we suffer because of our own sin and rebellion, as did Jonah. Sometimes we suffer to keep us from sinning, as was the case with Paul (2 Cor. 12:7). Suffering can perfect our character (Rom. 5:1-5) and help us to share the character of God (Heb. 12:1-11).

But suffering can also help us to minister to others. In every church, there are mature saints of God who have suffered and experienced God’s grace, and they are the great “encouragers” in the congregation. Paul experienced trouble, not as punishment for something he had done, but as preparation for something he was yet going to do—minister to others in need. Just think of the trials that King David had to endure in order to give us the great encouragement that we find in the Psalms.

Second Corinthians 1:7 makes it clear that there was always the possibility that the situation might be reversed: the Corinthian believers might go through trials and receive God’s grace so that they might encourage others. God sometimes calls a church family to experience special trials in order that He might bestow on them special abundant grace.

God’s gracious encouragement helps us if we learn to endure. “Patient endurance” is an evidence of faith. If we become bitter or critical of God, if we rebel instead of submit, then our trials will work against us instead of for us. The ability to endure difficulties patiently, without giving up, is a mark of spiritual maturity (Heb. 12:1-7).

God has to work in us before He can work through us. It is much easier for us to grow in knowledge than to grow in grace (2 Peter 3:18). Learning God’s truth and getting it into our heads is one thing, but living God’s truth and getting it into our character is quite something else. God put young Joseph through thirteen years of tribulation before He made him second ruler of Egypt, and what a great man Joseph turned out to be! God always prepares us for what He is preparing for us, and a part of that preparation is suffering.

How has your faith been tested by various trials…and what has been the God-honoring outcome?





  • Kristina Renshaw says:

    Thank you for this message, it helps me understand what im going through and why. Im a convert of nearly 7yrs but most of that time ive been unable to get work. Now unemployed coming up to 5yrs. Ive had to deal with condemnation from others, hardships, cold n hunger, correction and understanding. I have a greater compassion to the poor n homeless, i too am experiencing eviction which is being held off for a while to allow sale to go through. Ive experienced spiritual dryness where i feel i cannot pray, there are days i have no hope n dont want to get out of bed as i feel i have no purpose and this will never come to an end.

  • caesar nieves says:

    God sees knows all your pain and suffering renew your mind and thinking he will always love you and will never leave you get close to Godly people who are full of love not just words but action Jesus loves don’t give up it is only for a seat

  • HAM says:

    We were just discussing this same type of topic at bible study tonight.

  • Bea says:

    This was so timely and the second reading I received today on going through trials and tribulations. I am going through a storm right now but I know God will bring me through it. Why? Because He has done it for me time and time again. It’s those times I remember when I get worried and stressed out.

  • Pastor Sunny Sapkota says:

    Got so much caurage through this book, facing Strom in my family nd in ministry.thank you.
    Pastor Sunny, india

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