Many people ask "Why does God allow us to suffer?" or "Shouldn't Christians be free from suffering?" As a Christian I believe that to find the answer we need to look at what the Bible says on the subject. The book of Job is concerned with human suffering. Job does not know the reason for his suffering, but is content to know that God is in control and to put his trust in God.
The Bible teaches that God often speaks to us, and to those around us, through suffering. Through times of suffering we realise how weak we are, and how totally dependent we are on God. We learn that we can trust in the promises of the Bible, knowing that God is sovereign and He only lets us suffer as much as we can endure; and that He has promised to give us the strength to meet all our needs - and that includes M.E.! We are always in His hand and kept "under the shadow of the Almighty" (Psalm 91v1).
Yet, while it is true that God has promised to supply all our needs (Philippians 4v19), I don't believe that He gives us the strength that we require in advance - because we are told that "the just shall live by faith" (Romans 1v17), and that His mercies "are new every morning" (see Lamentations 3v22-23). Therefore we need to trust Him to give us each day the grace and strength to cope with the situations that we are faced with.
An encouraging text for anyone facing difficulties is Jeremiah 32v17: "Ah Lord GOD! behold, Thou hast made the heaven and the earth by Thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for Thee." Our God is the One Who by His Word alone created the entire Universe - therefore nothing is too difficult for Him or outside of His control. If it be His will He can heal us; if not, He has promised to give us all that we need to manage day by day.
Some believe that Christians should be free from illness and pain, but we live in a fallen world where there will always be sickness and suffering, and it is an inescapable part of our lives. However, it is true that, "the God of providence has limited the time, manner, intensity, repetition and effects of all our sicknesses. The limit is also wisely adjusted to our strength - we cannot suffer too much or be relieved too late. The thought is full of consolation that He Who has fixed the bounds of our habitation has also fixed the bounds of our tribulation" (C H Spurgeon).
God sometimes uses terrible circumstances, when people are at their lowest, to bring them to Himself; and there are many Christians who have suffered terribly, yet their lives are an encouragement to others who suffer and a challenge to those who are not Christians.
When considering what the Bible says about suffering, the following comment by Peter Masters in his book "The Healing Epidemic" is very helpful:
"No trial, affliction or sickness is to be regarded as an accident or a totally purposeless nuisance. It is right to seek immediate medical help and to pray for healing. It is wrong to lose patience and to throw away the promise - that all things work together for good to them that love God. To summarise, we are taught in James 5 that for both categories of suffering - external troubles and in bodily illnesses - the following attitudes should be adopted by believers:
(1) We must expect them both.
(2) We must pray for help and deliverance.
(3) We must be prepared to exercise patience, for God may strengthen us to bear the problem rather than take it away.
(4) We must believe that a problem not removed serves a purpose which will work to our eternal good, and may stand as a witness to others."
(Dr Peter Masters, "The Healing Epidemic", The Wakeman Trust p. 143/144; Used with permission).