Ministry Resources

The Gordian Knot of Suffering

Author: Ronda Knuth

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him…” Psalm 103:11

It was 333 BC. Alexander the Great was marching through Anatolia. He reached the capital city of Phrygia and there found a chariot that belonged to Gordius, the founder of the ancient city. He had tied the yoke to a pole with an intricate knot with its ends hidden. It was dictated that it was to be undone only by the person who was to rule Asia. Rather than untying the knot, Alexander sliced through it with his sword. The phrase, “cutting the Gordian knot” has come to mean a bold solution to a complicated problem.

I don’t get this suffering thing, nor do I like it. It hurts to hurt.

There is nothing easy or simple about it. Like the Gordian knot Alexander faced, suffering is complex and complicated. I want to unravel it with ease, to figure it out, to find some rhyme or reason in it, but I can’t. I can’t untie the Gordian knot of suffering.

Only God knows the particulars of your situation. You wrestle with your own questions, most beginning with, “Why?” Somewhere inside the Gordian knot of suffering are answers. Maybe not specifics, “This is why…” And, maybe knowing those answers won’t ease the pain or calm the spirit. What they do offer is an assurance, an understanding that suffering is allowed in our lives for a reason.

God has used suffering in my own life to sensitize me to a hurting world, to help me to figure out why I am here and what He wants me to do. He’s used it to purify my own heart. It is an effective tool that slows us down and gets our attention.

God knows the particulars of your situation

Scripture teaches (Hebrews 5:7-8) that Jesus learned obedience to God by the things He suffered. So can we. Sometimes suffering is used to bring that one who has walked away from God, back to Him.

The Apostle Paul said, “We felt we were doomed to die and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us,” (II Corinthians 1:9, TLB). Through suffering, He learned to trust God.

Sometimes we’re going one direction and need to be going another. God may allow suffering to change our course. “You were well aware that the reason I ended up preaching to you was that I was physically broken, and so, prevented from continuing my journey, I was forced to stop with you. That is how I came to preach to you,” (Galatians 4:13, The Message).


  • Reveals What is in Our Heart.
  • “God withdrew from Hezekiah in order to test him and to see what was really in his heart,” (II Chronicles 32:31, NLT).
  • Prepares Us For More Responsibility.
  • “I will walk by faith even when I cannot see because this broken road prepares Your will for me,” (Jeremy Camp).
  • Reshapes Us – Conforms us Into the Image of Christ (Romans 8:26-29, NIV).
  • Shifts our Focus Heavenward.
  • Helps us to unlearn fallacies we have accepted as truth.
  • Grows us up. “Go on until your endurance is fully developed, and you will find that you have become men of mature character…with no weak spots,” (James 1:3-4, PHILLIPS).
  • Someday heaven – but not today, not here, not now. What is here today, right now is the hurt. As you struggle to untie the Gordian knot of your pain, invite our Lord to join you in the task.


“Jesus, hold me close when my heart cries out, ‘Why?’ I offer my brokenness to You knowing that You alone can hold it and put it back together. I will trust You in my dark night of suffering.”

Rhonda Knuth is a writer living in Colorado.

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