Suffering: Why? What Does The Bible Say About Suffering?
I just recently moved back to Wisconsin from South Carolina. I had the privilege of staying with my family for most of the summer and although we had many sweet moments together… it was also an extremely challenging summer for all of us. My youngest brother had open heart surgery and was in and out of ICU a number of times. It`s always painful to watch someone you love so dearly go through hard things. Suffering is a big part of the world we live in, it happens, and it hurts. You don’t have to go far to see that the world is a very broken place filled with pain and heartache. Many people are faced with the question: “Why does suffering exist?” As Christians, how should we view suffering?
Going back to the beginning we can see that God created the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1:1). He created everything in just six days, and He made man in His image (Gen. 1:26). God saw everything that He made to be “very good” (Gen. 1:31). God told Adam and Eve that they could eat of anything in the garden except fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
“See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.” -Genesis 1:29
“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” -Genesis 2:16-17
Before the fall of mankind there was no death, pain, or suffering, but Adam and Eve disobeyed God, and because of that, sin came into the world. The reality of sin is the reason we see so much suffering and heartache in the world today. As we look at the world around us… we eagerly long for restoration.
Romans 8:22-25, “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope, we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
Suffering: Reminds Us Of Our Dependence Upon God
God allows Christians to experience suffering and it gives us a chance to trust Him (Job 2; 2nd Corinthians 12:8-10; 1 Peter 4:12-13). Suffering is part of life, and everyone experiences pain and sorrow at some point in their life. Suffering reminds us of our dependence upon the Lord. We desperately need Him to carry us through as we wait eagerly for our eternal home. As believers, the suffering in this life makes us long to see Christ our Savior face-to-face.
Suffering: Saved From Eternal Suffering
Jesus Christ came to die on the Cross for the sins of the world and He was raised from the dead so that we could walk free from the penalty of sin. Anyone who trusts in His finished work on the cross is saved. As believers, we never have to fear suffering for eternity because Jesus paid our sin debt in full and now we can spend eternity with Him. Jesus Christ is our hope of eternal light and life in the midst of suffering in a present dark world.
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen…
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling (2 Corinthians 4:17-5:2)”
As my family and I went through hard times with my little brother, one thing stood out to me. Christ and His steadfast love for us. On the night before my little brother had heart surgery, he said: “Mom, I`m not worried, I trust the Lord with whatever happens.” The Lord can be trusted, and He wants us to take His peace… even when times get tough. A man by the name of John Newton gives us a good perspective when it comes to trials of various kinds. In 1774, in a letter to a pastor, Newton wrote:
“Health is good while the Lord preserves it—and sickness is still better when he appoints it. He is good when he grants our wishes and multiplies our comforts—and he is good when he sends us trials and crosses. We are short-sighted and cannot see how many and what important consequences depend upon every turn in life; but the whole chain of events are open to his view.
When we arrive in the land of glory, we shall have an affecting retrospect of the way by which the Lord our God led us through this wilderness. We shall then see that whenever we were in heaviness, there was a need-be for it. We shall then, I doubt not, remember, among our choicest blessings, those things which, while we were here, seemed the hardest to account for, and the hardest to bear. Perhaps we were sinking into a lukewarm formality, or spiritual pride was springing up, or Satan was spreading some dangerous snare for our feet. How seasonable and important at such a time, is the mercy which, under the disguise of an affliction, gives an alarm to the soul, quickens us to prayer, makes us feel our own emptiness, and preserves us from the enemy’s net!”
While we cannot dismiss the reality of suffering and hardship here on earth, we can keep a heavenly perspective and find joy in the hope we have in Christ.
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4.
What Does The Bible Say About Suffering?
Here at Ethnos360 Bible Institute, we love God`s word and we acknowledge it as the foundation for understanding suffering, the world we live in, and the hope we have in Jesus Christ. Along with two years of chronological Bible teaching, EBI offers several different options for students to take electives. Electives such as “Understanding Suffering” and “The Love of God.” Come experience what it’s like on campus by signing up for a Campus Visit Weekend! Request your free information packet today!