The Place of Suffering In Life
Why do people often suffer so badly?
This is one question I will probably never have an answer for until the Lord returns.
Whether it is a human being or an animal, my heart breaks when people or animals suffer. At times, I cannot stand to watch the NEWS with all the sadness, hopelessness and suffering in the world.
Suffering, pain and evil was not how God ordered this world from the very beginning of time. He created a perfect world.
The Root of Suffering
All the suffering in the world is rooted in sin, which came about by disobedience to God’s perfect order of things. Sin is the only disease in the world that is incurable by man because it is a disease of the heart, which dates back to the very beginning of human existence.
For the wages of sin is death.
Every single person after Adam was damned to eternal death (that is, total separation from God), due to the rebellious and disobedient nature of the heart towards Him. For through Adam did sin enter the world, passing down the sin factor from generation to generation.
And the more people have strived to rid themselves of sin, the more they have been entangled by it and caused more suffering by trying to use quick fixes, ignoring it, seeking acceptance, love, and affection from others who are also hurting.
The sin problem is extremely severe in that, even when there is no form of external or internal contribution to sin, still suffering is ever-present. And this we see even through the little children born without consciously ever having experienced the consequences of sin, dying immediately after birth.
Suffering therefore is not limited to older people, but all children born of man are subjected to its blows. And I really had a problem with this after I completed high school because I felt as though other people were handed really nice lives and I was handed the scraps. (PS, I totally repented for this bad mindset by the Grace of God. Yikes!) So, during my quest to figure out the why’s of suffering, I stumbled upon Buddhism. It seemed to explain my predicament quite effectively, but then there was still a problem, the solution it offered didn’t quite seem to solve the problem.
The Case for Christ
As the wages of Sin is death, so is the Gift of God —eternal life, through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Then gradually by the grace of God, I encountered the only case that not only solved the problem, explained the genesis of the problem, but also gave me hope for a better order of existence, that is, a future of a perfect world once again; through a Kingdom that will soon be established on earth by the Prince of Peace.
Now, if the wages/cost of sin for all humanity was death, how could this be resolved, seeing that He still loved us with an everlasting love? He could not find even a single man on earth who walked perfectly in His eyes. For the heart was already rooted in corruption. And even after His giving of the law, man was still doomed to his fate.
And therefore, not having a human solution to this sorrowful predicament, God took it upon Himself to rid of it for the sake of His great love toward us.
He came down and took on human flesh, emptying and humbling Himself. He lived a righteous life and to the standard which man failed to live up to, with the highest form of pure love; taking upon Himself that punishment meant for humanity (death) even though He was blameless, so that we could be made righteous on account of Him.
For sin entered this world by one man – Adam – and was conquered by another: Jesus Christ. And man having inherited the curse of Adam at the very beginning of humanity, God also made it possible for humanity to inherit His Kingdom (or redeem people back to Himself) by having us place our faith on the only man to ever live a sinless life.
Therefore, all who believe in Him, are justified by His blood and sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
Unlike the prosperity gospel, which Jesus never alluded to, Jesus told His followers to prepare to suffer. Jesus suffered greatly, more than any man to ever walk the face of the earth. Having never wronged even a single person, looked hatefully at anybody, or even despised anyone, He was hated so despitefully to the point of crucifixion.
A man who loved sinners, invited the rejects to seat at His table, healed the blind and the lame, deaf and crippled, raised the dead, fed the hungry, spoke the truth with love and authority, rebuked injustice and corruption, and did many other good deeds and performed more miracles than all the books in the world could ever contain.
Yet, the human heart of man, put him to death for His righteousness.
And it was for this reason— the waywardness of man’s heart, did Jesus Christ come to die.
Only God can mend a man’s heart. However, many people today have been blinded by self-righteousness. Always pointing towards the faults of others instead of asking God to reveal to them their own heart’s wickedness.
While others presume that because Jesus died on the cross, all was made well and that all good people will now be granted access to heaven; forgetting that salvation is not about the goodness of one’s heart for it in itself is rooted in corruption, but a doing on God’s part. It is God’s gift to those who will receive it by faith.
Therefore, if Jesus came to rid of sin and death, why is there even more suffering experienced on earth after His death? Why is there still death and sin if He conquered them all?
Because just like David was anointed the King of Israel by Samuel while He was still yet a teenager, (meaning legally He was King). Saul still reigned as King of Israel for over twenty years before David was crowned King. And so is the same with the Kingdom of God. Jesus is King. Yet satan is reigning on territory that is not his anymore with great wrath. Knowing his time is very short, he is working overtime to steal, kill and destroy. Inducing suffering like has never been experienced on earth as the day of the Lord approaches; when he shall be judged to eternal damnation.
Suffering For the Gospel
Yet the Lord has allowed this suffering for a little while. Why? Because of those who want the light. Those who by faith, are willing to reject the lusts of this world and it’s ruler- the devil. And this rejection means suffering like He did. Saying NO to many practices accepted by people in the world today. The Holy Spirit reveals to the children of God the destruction and judgement that awaits this world, and they are in turn compelled and sent to pull men away from the broad road leading to destruction with much love, fear and trembling.
But not many people are willing to be saved. And Jesus said, that light has come into the world, but people love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.
Despite the Good News being extended to the whole world, that is, the flood gates of grace being opened for all nations, tribes, tongues and people, only those who are willing to receive it, can be saved. And this has always been the offence of the cross. For the cross makes the claim that it is the only way to God. There is no other way but through it, and by it. And man in his attempt to escape the cross has tried to broaden the way by making room for new revelations through the ages and introducing many false teachings of works.
But Jesus said, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. Matthew 16:24
For just like He bore His cross of humiliation, hate, prejudice and rejection for the Gospel, so, should we embrace it, as He already vowed to be with us through all the suffering. And indeed, it is so. Following the testimony of all men who faithfully trod that narrow path to eternal life, He has never failed.
Jesus addressed suffering for the cause of salvation of many in a way no man did. He did not ask that we should escape it, reject it, or be somber about it, He did not even say, to rid of it through searching for blessings and prosperity. He asked us, to lay down our lives for the sake of the lost world. He said,
33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
He knew in certain situations His disciples would have to pay even with their own lives for the sake of the Gospel. But He told all who would follow Him, that men could only kill the body but not the soul, for He knew He had in His hands the power of Eternal Life.
Suffering outside the will of God is the most painful and sad process for a human being to undergo. It breeds resentment, bitterness, blame, despair, mental depression, complaining, hopelessness, and ultimately full blown sin which leads to death.
However, for the children of God, He at times allows the discomfort of suffering in order to use it for His greater purposes, most times to build character through perseverance— that we may be fit for the Master’s assignments; so that He may bring many to repentance leading them home. And other times, I don’t understand why.
2 Timothy 2
3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.
5 And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.
6 The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops.
7 Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things.
8 Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel,
9 for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained.
10 Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
11 This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him.
12 If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.
13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.
14 Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers.
15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Suffering In General
Even the creation of God is suffering, groaning and waiting for restoration. We suffer in many ways in this world. Rejection, poverty, loss and death, sickness and diseases, injustices, corruption, violence, hunger, famine, droughts and countless suffering.
There is nothing that can be done to cease the suffering we encounter in this world because it is a spiritual disease that only God can eradicate once and for all. However, there is a way to ease suffering. By placing our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and using the weapons He left us which are the only ones able to fight this spiritual warfare. These being:
- Love of all and of enemies,
- The Name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
- The Blood of Jesus Christ,
- Fasting and prayer,
- The Word of God, which is our SWORD,
- Praise and Worship,
- Gathering Together as Saints,
- Using our Gifts for the Glory of God,
- The Hopeful Return of Jesus and The Rest and Assurance we have in Him,
- Spreading the Good News and Teaching Others God’s True Word,
- Living a Life ordered by the Holy Spirit and,
- Our Testimony
1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;
4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—
18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.
19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.
20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.
20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;
21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.
23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?
25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.
So ultimately, all things work together for good for them that love God and are the called according to His purpose. For all God’s children are like pilgrims on this earth, walking towards the Holy City of God having in their hands the scroll of eternal life. Understanding that this world is not our home and in due time, He shall come back in great glory to wipe away all the tears of suffering from our eyes and lead us home.
Therefore despite all things and in all things, Lord is our ever present help in time of need.
Featured Image, Photo by Matthew Smith Unsplash
Love your thoroughness discussed about suffering… We all partake in it, so if do so for JESUS there is hope and reward for doing so…