This is Part 5 of 5 parts answering the question, “Is it Sin that Causes God to Allow Suffering?” in the larger question, “Why does a loving God allow Suffering?”
What You Should Consider when You Suffer
This is a precursor to Part 4 [of the overall set of questions, this is Part 3 in that set of questions], but I want you to have some hope as we continue to answer “What is the Reason for Suffering?” What does suffering mean to you? Did you sin? What should you consider when you suffer?
Some believe that suffering is, and always was, just a part of life and not caused by sin. This is the position of evolutionists and those who hold to the theory that the earth is billions of years old.
Somehow they want you to believe that there was “death, death, and more death.” Then we have to figure out how to fit in the Bible when God said, “It was very good.” But then there is more death that follows. Actually, they do not hold to God having said, “It was very good,” because they deny the God of the Bible. So then you have to ask, “Why did Jesus go to the cross?” They claim that suffering and death are not the result of sin, so there was no need for Jesus to go to the cross.
But Jesus did go to the cross. That is a historical fact. And why did He die? He died because there is only One who is good,
18 Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. (Luke 18:18-19 NKJ)
Yes, there is only One who is good, and all the rest of the human race has sinned, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23 NKJ) In fact, the best of man is a cesspool of self-righteousness, “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.” (Is. 64:6 NKJ)
So, while God alone is righteous and none of us are, He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, as spoken through Ezekiel, “As I live,’ says the Lord GOD,`I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?‘ (Ez. 33:11 NKJ) When someone repents like this, then they can experience the love of God as shown through Jesus’ death, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8 NKJ)
Your Hope in Suffering
When you are suffering, consider also when you suffer that God has many purposes for it that give believers hope. For example, suffering keeps the world from becoming too attractive – your home is in heaven. Suffering can help you develop godly character – dependence and trust in the Lord instead of complaining. And, suffering can silence the enemies of God as they observe your quiet trust. Suffering often purifies us from worldly desires and living. Suffering can make us more sympathetic to others. Suffering teaches us how to pray, because we are driven to God. Consider also the suffering of Jesus,
21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness– by whose stripes you were healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Pet. 2:21-25 NKJ)
1) When you look at people who are suffering, do you ever ask “What caused their suffering?” What are some examples?
2) If suffering ultimately comes from sin, how do you not judge someone’s suffering as if it came from personal sin as Job’s friends judged Job?
3) What are several examples that you could give for the different sources of suffering in this chapter?
4) What are other examples in Scripture of how God’s people suffered for the sake of revealing the glory of God?
5) Can you think of other things you should consider when you suffer (without looking ahead to Part Four)?
1Bailey, Mark, “A Biblical Theology of Suffering in the Gospels,” Why, O God (Wheaton, Crossway, 2011), p, 162.
2Waters, Larry, “Suffering in the Book of Job,” Why, O God (Wheaton: Crossway, 2011), p. 113.
3Bramer, Stephen, “Suffering in the Writing Prophets (Isaiah to Malachi)” Why, O God, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2011), p. 159
4Bremer, Stephen, “Suffering in Writing Prophets (Isaiah to Malachi)” Why, O God¸(Wheaton, Crossway, 2011), p. 147.
5Waters, p. 112
6Ibid., p. 113
7Bailey, p. 162
This concludes this question and chapter.