No wonder John the Baptist had doubts about Jesus. This man had spent his entire life boldly preaching the gospel and preparing the people for the coming of the Messiah. And his reward? A dirty, musty prison cell and a death sentence.

How could God have allowed this? Wasn’t He supposed to reward John for his faithful life of service?

It’s the same question Job asked. And Paul, David, and Jeremiah. It’s the same question asked by the widow who buries her husband of 25 years. Or the pastor who’s run out of town by the politics of an unruly church board. Or the first-time parents who lost their six-month-old child to cancer.

How can a loving God seemingly sit in silence?

We’ll never truly understand the purpose of our pain on this side of Heaven, but the picture becomes clearer when we set our suffering up against the backdrop of Calvary’s cross. There Jesus experienced the cruelest injustice while God the Father turned away. Jesus asked the question we often ask, “God, why have You forsaken me?”

God forsook Jesus so that we could be reconciled to Him in love. There was a reason for the suffering, a purpose for the pain.

And so it is with us. Our struggles, trials, and problems aren’t random or senseless. They’re part of a divine plan more beautiful and wonderful than we can ever imagine.

Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder