I was listening to a sermon the other day in which the pastor was talking about suffering, and he made an observation that I thought was worth sharing. I apologize, but I started listening in the middle of the sermon, so I don't know the name of the pastor. It was a radio program and about the best I can do to give credit where credit is due is to admit that the thoughts I am about to share are not my own.
The pastor told the story of someone caught in an addictive behavior who prayed nightly to God to remove the temptation of this addiction. But for years the inner inclinations remained. Most of us ask why God remains silent in the face of such persistent prayer. A key question that many of us overlook when asking this question, though, is whether we would really be as persistent in our prayer life if we did not have that constant thorn in our side. Struggle has a way of driving us to God and forcing us to recognize our inability to overcome everything this world throws at us on our own. When all is going well, we do not often acknowledge our need to rely upon God. This could result in far more disasterous (and eternal) consequences that far outweigh the temporary suffering we face in this world. So perhaps God allows some suffering to continue precisely because He knows that without it a person will never come to see their need for Him and never come to true faith.
It is a sad truth that even the most devoted Christians do not pray as often as they probably should. Our own difficulties, however, are usually what drives us to our knees. How would our prayer life be if God removed all pain from our lives? What would our relationship with Him look like if we never spoke? Perhaps God knows that for certain people, if He granted their prayer requests too soon, they would never pray again, and the relationship would be lost.
I admit to not having reflected too deeply on this pastor's comments just yet, but they piqued my interest enough that I thought they were worth sharing in case anyone else wanted to contribute their thoughts.