Sermon quotes on suffering

James Baldwin

I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.

Notes of a Native Son

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The darker the night, the brighter the stars,
The deeper the grief, the closer is God!

Crime and Punishment


Joshua Choonmin Kang

Humility brings peace, for when we reach the low place, we needn’t worry about falling down anymore. 


Joshua Choonmin Kang

[God’s] greatest grace is found at the lowest place.


Julian of Norwich

So pain endures for a time. Its role is to purge us, to make us to know ourselves, and it drives us to the Lord to plead for mercy. 

Revelations of Divine Love


Helen Keller

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.


Bob Marley

The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.


Lesslie Newbigin

Through the repeated hammer blows of defeat, destruction, and deportation, interpreted by the faithful prophets, Israel has to learn that election is not for comfort and security but for suffering and humiliation.


Henri Nouwen

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares. 

J.I. Packer

God uses chronic pain and weakness, along with other afflictions, as his chisel for sculpting our lives.

Richard Rohr

If you do not transform your pain, you will surely transmit it.


A.W. Tozer

All great Christians have been wounded souls.


Mignon McLaughlin

When suffering comes, we yearn for some sign from God, forgetting we have just had one.

Henri Nouwen

When we are crushed like grapes, we cannot think of the wine we will become.

John Newton 

It is necessary that our sharpest trials should sometimes spring from our dearest comforts; else we should be in danger of forgetting ourselves and setting up our rest here.

John Donne

Christ saw his afflictions. Afflictions did not blind him, not stupefy him. Afflictions did not make him insensible to affliction (which is a frequent, but a desperate condition). He saw it. And he maintained the dignity of his station. Still he played the man; still he survived to glorify God and to be an example to other men of patience under god’s corrections, and of thankfulness in God’s deliverance.

Donne’s Sermons

C.S. Lewis

Son, ‘he said,’ ye cannot in your present state understand eternity…That is what mortals misunderstand. They say of some temporal suffering, “No future bliss can make up for it,” not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.”

The Great Divorce

W.H. Auden

About suffering they were never wrong,

The Old Masters: how well they understood 

Its human position; how it takes place

While someone else is eating or opening a window or just

walking dully along.

Musee des Beaux Arts

Elisabeth Elliot

To love means to open ourselves to suffering. Shall we shut our doors to love, then, and be “safe”?

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.

Oswald Chambers

We all know people who have been made much meaner and more irritable and more intolerable to live with by suffering: it is not right to say that all suffering perfects. It only perfects one type of person – the one who accepts the call of God in Christ Jesus.

Jerry Walls

No human tears are beyond the reach of God’s infinite goodness.

Heaven: The Logic of Eternal Joy, Oxford University Press.

Nicolas Wolterstorff

God so suffered for the world that he gave up his only Son to suffering.

Lament for a Son (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), 84.

Charles Spurgeon

I am certain that I never did grow in grace one half so much anywhere as I have upon the bed of pain,”

Spurgeon’s Sermons on Great Prayers of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1995), 31.

Alister Begg

We should neither court suffering nor complain about it. Instead, we should see it as one of the means God chooses to employ in order to make us increasingly useful to our Master.

Made for His Pleasure, p. 109.

Peter Davids

The point [of suffering] is that while Christians may suffer in this age and so have no future here, there is waiting for the faithful a reward as sure and as real as that of Abraham, a reward far better than an earthly land and far more lasting.

1 Peter, NICNT, 52-53

Max Scheler

An essential part of the teachings and directives of the great religious and philosophical thinkers the world over has been on the meaning of pain and suffering.

“The Meaning of Suffering,” in On Feeling, Knowing, and Valuing: Selected Writings, ed. H. J. Bershady (University of Chicago Press, 1992), p. 98.

Peter Berger

[Every culture has provided an] explanation of human events that bestows meaning upon the experiences of suffering and evil.

The Homeless Mind: Modernization and Consciousness (Vintage, 1974), p. 185.

William Shakespeare

Sweet are the uses of adversity,

Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,

Wears yet a precious jewel in his head. 

As You Like It, Act 2, Scene 1, 12-17.

David Brooks

The people who have been made larger by suffering are brave enough to let parts of their old self die. Down in the valley, their motivations changed. They’ve gone from self-centered to other-centered.

The Second Mountain, Random House Publishing Group, p. xiv.

John Stott

Do you want to be holy? Then you will suffer.

The Cross of Christ

Oswald Chambers

We all know people who have been made much meaner and more irritable and more intolerable to live with by suffering: it is not right to say that all suffering perfects. It only perfects one type of person – the one who accepts the call of God in Christ Jesus.

Ben Patterson

God always comes alongside us in our waiting and suffering.  But it is rarely to explain what is happening to us.  Rather, he comes to speak of his love for us, to assure us that he is near and to tell us what he requires of us as we wait and as we hurt. 

Taken from Waiting: Finding Hope When God Seems Silent by Ben Patterson Copyright (c) 1989 by Ben Patterson. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

Oswald Chambers

In the history of the Christian church, the tendency has been to evade being identified with the sufferings of Jesus Christ; [people] have sought to procure the carrying out of God’s order by a shortcut of their own. God’s way is always the way of suffering, the way of the “long, long trail.”

My Utmost for His Highest, Classic ed. (Grand Rapids: Discovery House, 2017), November 5.

Dick Ryan

Suffering is a dreadful teacher but often the beginning of the best in us. Suffering and creativity arc often interdependent. Pain produces a terrible tension released in our creative response. Suffering can be like a grain of sand in an oyster: it can create a magnificent pearl.

Straight from the Heart: Reflections from Twentieth-Century Mystics ed. Crossroad Publishing Company, 2001.

George Herbert

I wept when I was borne, and every day shewes why.

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