There’s a passage in the book of Hebrews we don’t like very much.
“Although he was a son”—it is speaking about Jesus Christ—“he learned obedience from what he suffered” (5:8).
Dang. If Jesus needed to learn through suffering, well, it just doesn’t leave any room for complaining, does it? How are we going to skip this class if he had to take it? Suffering will be a part of our education as God’s children.
This is NOT to say that every bad thing that comes your way is God’s discipline. It does not mean that marital crisis is some sort of retribution for past sins. That is bad theology and it has hurt a lot of people. A friend was suffering from a terrible flu; she said, “I sure hope I learn what God has for me in this, so I can get over it.” I didn’t want to be unkind, so I kept my mouth shut. But inside I thought, You think God made you sick!? There are others things at work in this world. Germs, for instance.
We live in a broken world; disease, accident, injury are just part of life east of Eden. This world has foul spirits in it, too; they cause a lot of havoc. The sin of man is also enough to sink any ship. Stir all these together and you got plenty of reason for suffering. So don’t go thinking that every bad things happening is God punishing you.
As Dallas Willard reminds us, “What we learn about God from Jesus should prove to us that suffering and ‘bad things’ happening to us are not the Father’s preferred way of dealing with us—sometimes necessary, perhaps, but never what he would, on the whole, prefer.”
Not his preferred means—keep that in mind.