been written on why
people suffer. There are many teachings going around in Christian
circles concerning why Christians suffer.
BUT, LET'S LOOK AT WHAT GOD'S WORD SAYS:
1. First of all, is it God's will for any of His people to suffer? The
Greek word commonly used in the New Testament for "suffer" is "pascha",
or "to feel", meaning "to feel negative emotion or pain".
a. Paul says in 1 Thess
3:3&4 that the Apostles were appointed to suffer.
b. In 1 Pet 2:19-21, we are
called to suffer.
c. 1 Pet 3:14-17 speaks of
"our suffering by the will of God".
d. In James 5:8-11, we are
told to follow the prophets example in suffering.
e. In 1 Pet 4:12-19, Peter
says not to be
surprised when this fiery trial comes upon you by the will of God .
f. In Rom 8:17&18,
Paul says all Christians suffer, but it's worth it.
g. In 2 Tim 3:12, Paul says
"Yea, and all
that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
2. I believe that God's Word teaches that ALL suffering in the
Christian life is by God's will, purpose and design, and either caused
or allowed by Him, for our immediate or ultimate good. (Eph 1:11
2:10, Phil 1:29 & Rom 8:28)
Even the suffering of Job was by the
will of God,
and for his ultimate good, and all the way through the book of Job, Job
received his suffering as from the hand of God, even though Satan
himself was the instrument that actually administered the suffering.
(Job 1:8-12, 21, & 22, Job 2:3-7 & 10, Job 19:6-13
and Job 42:11). Job said in Job 2 verse 10, "What? shall we receive
good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil (bad)?"
3. General types of human suffering:
a. Loss of health.
b. Loss of social status.
c. Administration of justice
authorities. (Includes discipline under any authorities, from parents
to schools to jobs, to military, and police.)
d. People who aren't nice to
e. Privation, such as hunger
f. Weather, and so called
"acts of God".
g. Mental. (Includes
loneliness, boredom, ostracism, etc.)
4. Suffering is a vital and important part of God's plan for His
a. Our suffering is precious
to God: 1 Pet 1:7&8.
b. There is happiness in
suffering for Christ's sake: 1 Pet 4:14.
c. Suffering is sometimes
used as discipline
for God's people, and as such comes from God's love, and causes us to
grow in Christ: Heb 12:5-11.
d. Fellowship with God is
restored, when we
confess that sin to God: 1 John 1:7-9. (The wonderful fruit of the
Spirit of God is listed in Gal 5:22)
e. The Psalmist in Psa 119
says that it was GOOD that he was afflicted! Psa 119:71.
5. Biblical reasons for Christian suffering:
a. To glorify God and
further His cause:
Phil 1:12-21, John 11:3-15 (Jesus intentionally allowed Lazarus to die,
that God would be glorified by his resurrection).
The suffering of Job is
also a good example. Job was "perfect and upright, and one that feared
God and eschewed evil", (Job 1:1).
We know of no sin or
reason for Jobs sufferings, except that they were a demonstration God
designed for Satan and the angels, to prove that God could instill in
man an unconditional love for God.
In Job 1:6-12 we find
that it happened not only by God's will, but by His suggestion and
strictly within the limits God placed upon Satan.
In Job 13:15, Job says of God "though he slay me, yet will I trust
In the end, Job got "double his stuff back", in Job 42:11&12.
God is still being glorified when the wonderful book of Job is read or
b. For divine discipline:
Heb 12:6, David is an example in Psa 38.
c. To illustrate a point, or
of God's Word: The book of Hosea. (God's relationship with Israel is
illustrated by the prophet Hosea's relationship with his wayward wife,
d. To learn obedience to
God's Word: Heb 5:8
& Phil 2:8. Even Jesus, in His humanity, learned obedience
the things He suffered!
e. To keep down pride: 2 Cor
f. To help us grow in faith:
1 Pet 1:6-8.
g. To give us opportunities
to witness for Christ: 1 Pet 2:12, Phil 1:12-18.
h. To demonstrate God's
power: Compare 2 Cor
11:23-33 with 2 Cor 12:7-10, illustrated in the life of the Apostle
i. To manifest the
production of the Holy Spirit in our lives: 2 Cor 4:6-18 and 5:1-9.
j. To enable us to comfort
others in their time of suffering: 2 Cor 1:3-7.
k. We may suffer due to the
of others: 1 Cor 12:12-13&26, & Rom 14:7. (We, as God's
are one body.)
6. God's grace is demonstrated in Christian suffering. There is no
testing or pressure too intense for God's plan for our lives, 1 Cor
a. Our testing is not
unique, it's common to all mankind.
b. God is faithful &
will not allow us to be tested beyond our ability to withstand it.
c. Along with the testing,
God will always
provide "a way of escape" so we can endure, or hold up under the
testing. (God's "way of escape" is ALWAYS according to His Word)
7. God has not promised us that we will not suffer, but, He has
promised us comfort and that it is for a divine purpose.
8. When we suffer:
a. We should first check our
self to see if we are being disciplined.
b. In 1 Cor 11:27-32 Paul
describes 3 stages
of divine discipline, from light to severe, and tells us to "judge
ourselves, that we be not judged".
c. Then, if we know we are
not out of God's
will, we can accept the suffering as for a purpose, and from our loving
d. In everything give
thanks: for this is
the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thess 5:18.
9. Rejoice! The happiest and healthiest a child of God can be is "in
fellowship" and centered in God's will. No matter what, our future is
a. God, who has called us,
after we have
suffered a while, (according to His will) will in due course of time,
make us mature, established, strengthened, and settled, 1 Pet 5:6-11.
b. There is no suffering
for God's people in eternity: Rev 21:4.