Saturday, October 20, 2012

8 biblical views on human suffering

Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. I Peter 4: 1-2

For centuries, philosophers of every age have struggled to explicate reasons for human suffering. Why does a good God allow his creation to suffer? Scripture has much to say on the subject and gives many reasonable answers that both explain and comfort those who suffer. By no means do these views become THE answer, but a way to begin thinking about the subject. 

Suffering as a direct attack from Satan
Don't be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The devil will throw some of you into prison to test you. You will suffer for ten days. But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life (Revelation 2:10 NLT).
From a human vantage point, suffering is often inexplicable
Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words. Job 2: 13
Suffering as a byproduct of following Jesus
For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps (I Peter 2:21; 2 Timothy 3:12)
Suffering because of the offense of the gospel
I, John, am your brother and your partner in suffering and in God's Kingdom and in the patient endurance to which Jesus calls us. I was exiled to the island of Patmos for preaching the word of God and for my testimony about Jesus (Revelation 1:9)
Suffering because of human sin and rebellion
The earth suffers for the sins of its people,
for they have twisted God's instructions,
violated his laws,
and broken his everlasting covenant (Isaiah 24:5; Jeremiah 25:14)

Suffering because of the selfishness of others
Sodom's sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door (Ezekiel 16:49).
Suffering prepares us for future glory
And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God's glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering (Romans 8: 17)
Suffering as a tool to transform our lives
I am still thinking and praying about this thought: one additional reason, among the other reasons why we suffer, is that suffering strips away the idols we have propped up for our support and comfort. Suffering removes sin and clarifies in our lives God's will as better and more desirable than our will.
This is in part what I Peter 4: 1-2 says: Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.
What do you think?