The great philosopher C. S. Lewis once wrote: “They say of some temporal suffering, ‘No future bliss can make up for it,’ not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into glory” (Keller 34). How can agony and suffering be turned into glory? Suffering is a term that is closely related to the concepts of evil and pain. The verb, suffer, means to undergo or endure. Suffering is linked with the experience of anguish or misery in which humans are aware of the hardships of their intent or function.
Suffering, with its biological and psychological matters, may be the result of moral evil where human sin leads to affliction (injustice, greed, war, rape, exploitation) or of natural evil (droughts, floods, earthquakes, accident, illness). Suffering, as a state of mind, may also relate to circumstances of places, possessions and people rather than evil (Atkinson 823). Suffering may be due to unrelieved pain, not all pain, as a physical state, necessarily means suffering. God allows us to suffer upon earth. He does not, however, make us suffer. It is our own faults, because of sin, which we suffer.
Suffering is caused by sin, which is the rebellion of creation that God had made for us. Sin and suffering are related to each other and also go together. Sin produces suffering, which we can then assume that all suffering, somewhere and somehow, is caused by sin (Henry 651). The Book of Job says important things about suffering. Almost everyone at some point in life asks, “Why do bad things happen to good people? The Book of Job does not really answer the question, “Why is there suffering? ” But it does show right and wrong ideas and feelings about suffering and the meaning of life (online).
Job is a man who is wise, rich, and good. Then suddenly terrible things happen to him. His ten children are killed. He loses all his wealth. And he becomes ill with a painful skin disease. Three friends come to visit him, and they try to explain to Job why these bad things have happened. They tell job that sin caused his suffering and God was punishing him. Job insists it is not true, but no one believes him. Job becomes very discouraged and angry but he still believes God cares about him, although he may not understand why he must suffer so. In the end, God answers Job in a hirlwind, reminding him that humans can never understand how great God is. After Job hears God speak, he says, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes. (Job 42:5-6 KJV). “
Job realized that his trust in God should not depend on what happens to him. God says that Job’s friends did not know what they were talking about. Finally, God restores Job’s health, makes him twice as rich as he had been before, and gives him ten more children. This book tells us that God is in control of everything that happens to us.
Satan can only do what God allows him to do, within reason of God letting him do it. And when God allows suffering He has ways of making everything turn out okay in the end. Romans 8:28 says to us, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. ” Our part is to trust God and ask him for strength and comfort, in whatever we go though. God has said in His Word that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). The question in Job is how to read his suffering back to his sin, his suffering as against the apparently easygoing life of his friends.
The book of Job does not give any specific answer except to calm the opinions of his friends and it opens possibilities in the greatness of God. Better things are at stake and better things will happen to Job and his friends (Henry 651). Another example of suffering in the bible is the story of Joseph. Joseph was the favored child of Jacob, who was the grandson of Abraham. Joseph had a bunch of brothers who hated him, since their father gave Joseph attention and gifts that he did not give to the other brothers. Joseph’s brothers then got jealous of him and sold him into slavery.
Joseph became the head of the household of a rich man, Potiphar. However, due to false accusations, Joseph was thrown into prison for several years. He was eventually let out because of his ability to interpret other people’s dreams. He became a major authority of Egypt and gathered food for the country since he knew through dreams that famine would come to the land. When famine did come, people from the surrounding lands came to Egypt for food. Joseph’s brothers showed up in Egypt to get food and after playing some games with them, Joseph forgave his brothers and took care of his family in Egypt (Genesis 37-50).
Though he experienced years of bondage and misery, Joseph’s character was refined and strengthened by his trials and sufferings. If God had not allowed Joseph’s years of suffering, he never would have been such a powerful agent for social justice and spiritual healing (Keller 24). Many people have to admit that most of what they need for success in life came to them through their most difficulties and painful experiences in life. Some look back on things like a major illness or other hardship and recognize that it was a hard time and they found personal and spiritual growth for them.
One man lost the sight in his eyes and he said that it humbled him. “As my physical eyes were closed but my spiritual eyes were opened. I was a terrible price to pay yet I must say it was worth it. ” Though people are not grateful for the tragedies that happened to them, they would not trade the wisdom, character, and strength they had gotten from their experiences (Keller 25). Psalm 119:71 says: “My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees. The New Testament shows us two ways of understanding. The first is that there is a mass suffering which must be paid for by sinful humanity.
The price will be paid by humanity in human history and paid in full. The second answer is Jesus. Jesus, who took sin upon himself to cover the sins of the universe for us. Jesus did three things to solve the problem of suffering. First, he came. He suffered with us. Second, in becoming man he changed the meaning of our suffering: it is now part of his work of redemption. Third, he died and rose. Dying, he paid the price for sin and opened heaven to us; rising, he transformed death from a hole into a door, from an end into a beginning (Kreeft, online). The cross reveals that suffering may be made into something redemptive.
If a disciple of Christ accepts suffering upon him in God’s wisdom and love, and also takes upon him the cross, knowing that final answers rest with God in another world. A theologia crucis means the theology of the cross. This term determines God hidden in suffering and humiliation of the cross of Christ. Luther used the phrase Deus crucifixus, which means “a crucified God,” as he speaks of the manner in which God shares in the sufferings of Christ. It was the late twentieth century that it was the “new orthodoxy” to speak of a suffering God. Traditional theology declared that Jesus Christ was indeed God incarnate.
Therefore it seems to follow that God suffered in Christ. Christ suffered in his human nature, not divine. Thus God did not experience human suffering and remained unaffected by the aspect of the world (McGrath 221). God came to earth to put himself on the hook of human suffering. God experienced the greatest depths of pain. On the cross he went beyond even the worst human suffering and experienced cosmic rejection and pain that exceeds ours as infinitely as his knowledge and power exceeds ours (Keller 30). The Bible says that Jesus had to pay for our sins so that someday he can end evil and suffering without having to end us.
The twentieth century faced a lot of suffering during their time. Two world wars broke out, increasing weapons and natural disasters. It is the impossible sufferings of the Holocaust that has raise the most questions about human evil and a God of love. Kenneth Surin, in light of the horrors of Auschwitz, declares a ‘rupture’ of language and need for unbelief as well as belief in relation to God’s apparent inaction (Atkinson 825). So then why does God allow suffering to continue on? Honestly we don’t know the answer that question. The answer is not that God does not love us.
He is not indifferent or detached from our condition. God takes our misery and suffering so seriously that he was willing to take it on himself (Keller 31). Jonathan Edwards concludes: “The suffering which Christ endured in his body on the cross were yet the least part of his last sufferings. If it had been only the sufferings which he endured in his body, we cannot conceive that the mere anticipation of them would have been such an effect on Christ. ” James 1:2-4 says “When troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. ” How are you supposed to consider things joy that make you suffer? You are not supposed to consider it joy that you are going through the suffering but what you get out of and learn from the suffering afterwards is supposed to be joyful. You can use your story of suffering to help someone else that is going through the same thing. It is always a blessing to know someone who has gone through the same troubles that you are going through, because they usually have some helpful words of comfort and wisdom in helping you as well. Corinthians 1:4 tells to us “he comforts us in our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. ” God lets you go through these trials and suffering to see whether your faith in Him is real and if you rely on him to help you through it. Sometimes God sees the need to put us through things to make us stronger. Paul tells us in II Timothy 2:3 “Endure suffering along with me as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. ” Although there might not seem to be any logical reason to us for the troubles and sufferings that we often face, but God always has a reason.
Sometimes He’s just trying to make us tougher. According to Galatians 5:22, a Spirit-filled Christian is supposed to be longsuffering. Sometimes God lets us suffer o teach us patience. Romans 5:3 says “We can rejoice when we run into problems and trials for we know that they teach us to develop endurance. There are many reasons why God lets us suffer. He knows what is best for us, and he does not make mistakes. Romans 8:28 says God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.