25-29; 70-71; 4 Ezra 5:1-13; 8:50; 9:1-6; 16:70-73). “Early Christian speakers and writers not only argued vigorously that Christianity’s teaching made more sense of suffering, they insisted that the actual lives of Christians proved it. (Suffering and the Sovereignty of God, 166). The meaning is this: God is gain. We naturally try to avoid suffering at all costs. Such suffering is called a suffering for God's or Christ's sake (Jeremiah 15:15; Acts 9:16; Philippians 1:29; 2 Timothy 1:12). Suffering forces us to turn from trust in our own resources to living by faith in God’s resources. Jesus tells us, wear my yoke-for it fits perfectly-and let me teach you; for I am gentle and humble, and you shall find rest for your souls; for I … The Bible even tells us why we suffer. The remedial view comes to expression most prominently in the letter to the Hebrews ( 12:3-13 ). God himself is gain. Similarly, Paul says God sent him a "thorn in the flesh" to keep him from becoming conceited on account of his surpassingly great revelations ( 2 Cor 12:7 ). Declaring the power of salvific suffering, the Apostle Paul says: "In my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for … Suffering as the Consequence of Sin. Pope John Paul II used the Scriptures in Salvifici Doloris to enter into the Christian meaning of human suffering. That sometimes the righteous suffer for no apparent reason is the thesis of the Book of Job. All Christians suffer. God established a moral order in creation, with the result that retributive justice is meted out in life experience. On the one hand, suffering is the consequence of the flawed nature of creation. Why me? Apart from an individual's suffering because of his or her belonging to a nation under God's judgment or on account of the sins of a previous generation, the Old Testament (with some exceptions), the intertestamental texts, and the New Testament portray God as dealing with each human being on the principle of retributive justice. Three types of justification are offered in the Old Testament for the suffering of the righteous: eschatological, remedial, and expiatory. The words and phrases in the Bible expressing this concept are too numerous to list. 1:5; 78:3-4; 79:2). The wicked, on the other hand, he destroys. When we are in a state of anguish that offers little respite, the natural inclination is to turn toward a higher source for help. You have firsthand experience of both his sustaining grace and his purposeful design. Similarly, Pompey's intervention in the internal affairs of the Jewish nation, which brought about much suffering and death to some Jews, was understood as precipitated by national sin (cf. Christians still suffer as we wait for Jesus to return, but none of our suffering is random or without purpose. Paul, likewise, believes that the nation is temporarily rejected by God until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in ( Rom 11 ). And neither does it mean that Scripture doesn’t tell us how to think about our suffering now. Suffering is the bearing or undergoing of pain or distress. God is gain. Israel's covenant at Sinai is a special historical manifestation of the principle of retributive justice. If the righteous do suffer it must be for a reason, which functions as a valid exception to the moral principle that the righteous prosper and the wicked suffer. In these two verses, Paul lists several types of suffering — mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual. (p17) And... 'For suffering cannot be transformed and changed by the grace from outside, but from within. Proud member
Either you have, you are, or you will — “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). The Books of Job and Ecclesiastes. also Sir 2:4-5). The former is a testimony to God's protection granted to his obedient people against their enemies. Bar. Paul interprets his own suffering as a means of ensuring that he be ever conscious of his own weakness, so that he remembers always that the power at work in him is from God and not himself and so that he is not deluded into relying on his own power ( 2 Cor 1:8-10 ; 4:7-12 ). On the other hand, Lamentations places the blame for the destruction of Jerusalem squarely on the shoulders of the apostate nation. Bar. In doing so, God didn’t take away suffering — He transformed it. Bar. The individual righteous person is at the mercy of the larger historical designs of God. Christians affirm that somehow this suffering heals the rift between God and man. Why now? (6) "To suffer death." The Maccabean martyrs are said to bring God's judgment of the nation to an end (4 Macc 1:11; 6:29; 17:21; T. Mos. John Paul, long before his personal experience of degrading illness, articulated the Christian meaning of suffering, which is rooted in our uniting ourselves with the suffering of Christ. Bible Dictionaries - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Suffering, Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, Encyclopedias - International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Suffering, California - Do Not Sell My Personal Information. Collective Suffering. See more. God could have saved the world through a single word, but He didn’t. Human suffering is thus redeemed. We have been given the privilege not only of trusting him but also of suffering for him. God cursed the ground, so that human beings can stay alive only through much toil; the pain of childbirth is greatly increased for all women ( Gen 3:16-19 ); death and all the suffering attendant upon dying have entered the world ( Gen 2:17 ). 14:1-19; 15:7-8; 24:1-2; 44:13-14; Wis. 1-5 ). 50-51). The book of Job shows us there can be two ways to respond to suffering: one that curses God because of suffering and one that praises God, even in the midst of suffering (Job 2:9–10). The idea that national suffering is consequent on disobedience to God is continued in the New Testament. On account of the disobedience of Eve and then Adam, a wretched legacy has been bequeathed to the human race. What is God doing? Psalm 1, for example, compares the man whose delight is in the Torah of Yahweh to a tree planted by streams of water bearing fruit in its season; the wicked, on the other hand, are compared to chaff blown away by the wind. Nineveh faces imminent judgment on account of the collective guilt of its inhabitants; national repentance forestalls the wrath of God (Book of Jonah). David Powlison answers this way: When you’ve passed through your own fiery trials, and found God to be true to what he says, you have real help to offer. Most people experience suffering at some time in their life. He rose in that body. A great variety of Hebrew and Greek expressions, too large to be here enumerated, have been translated by "suffering" and other forms derived from the same verb. The believer should not be puzzled at suffering, because the Bible plainly states that it is a necessary part of the Christian life. In this regard, the Book of Esther stands in contrast to Lamentations. The application of God's retributive justice is postponed, so that the righteous suffer unjustly in this life. The Book of James similarly identifies trials as a means of engendering holiness ( 1:2-3 ), as does 1 Peter 1:3-9. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1:4 that God “comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”. Paul speaks of the exaltation of Christ over all spiritual beings ( Eph 1:19-22 ; Col 2:15 ), and describes believers as those who have been rescued from the kingdom of darkness and brought into the kingdom of the Son ( Col 1:13 ; cf. In this vein, 1 Enoch 45:4-5 speaks about the transformation of the heaven and the earth, at which time the Elect One, the Messiah, will dwell on earth with the righteous. 2 Macc. But there are some cases of the suffering of the righteous impervious to theodicy. The meaning of suffering is given us above all in Jesus’ suffering which is his love for us, for our redemption. Copyright © 2021, Bible Study Tools. Barney Zwartz is a Senior Fellow of the Centre for Public Christianity, and a former Fairfax journalist. Jub. In two passages outside the Gospels it is explicit that Jesus' death is the fulfillment of the vicarious and expiatory death of the servant ( Acts 8:32-33 ; 1 Peter 2:21-25 ). Similarly, in 2 Peter 3:13 and Revelation 21:1, the Isaian concept of the new heaven and new earth finds expression. also the Book of Daniel). Dr. Kreeft does not give easy answers to the problem, but he examines suffering from a number of different perspectives, "clues" to meaning in the face of suffering. Achan, for instance, disobeys God, but the whole nation is defeated in battle as a consequence of his disobedience ( Joshua 7 ). Other common phrases are "to suffer affliction" (1 Thessalonians 3:4; Hebrews 11:25, the Revised Version (British and American) "share ill-treatment"), "to suffer hardship" (2 Timothy 2:9), "to suffer adversity" (Hebrews 13:3 the King James Version, the Revised Version (British and American) "to be ill-treated"), "to suffer dishonor" (the King James Version "shame," Acts 5:41), "to suffer violence," (Matthew 11:12), "to suffer wrong" (Acts 7:24), "to suffer terror" (Psalms 88:15), "to suffer shipwreck" (2 Corinthians 11:25), "to suffer hunger" (Psalms 34:10; Proverbs 19:15), "to suffer thirst" (Job 24:11). What you are experiencing from God, you can give away in increasing measure to others. In: Tymieniecka AT., Agazzi E. (eds) Life Interpretation and the Sense of Illness within the Human Condition. 10:1; T. Levi 18:12; T. Judah 25:3; T. Zebulon 9:8; T. Dan 5:10-11; 6:3; 1 Enoch 1; 10:13-16; 54:6; 55; 69:28-29; 90:24; Jub. The righteous are urged, therefore, to be patient in their suffering and to wait for the eschatological judgment and salvation of God, at which time they will receive the blessing due to them, whereas the wicked, who are often the oppressors of the righteous, will be punished and destroyed (cf. The most obvious meanings of the word are the following: (1) The commonest meaning perhaps in the English Versions of the Bible is "to permit," "to allow," "to give leave to": "Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away" (Mark 10:4). Suffering, or pain in a broad sense, may be an experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with the perception of harm or threat of harm in an individual. Proverbs 3:11-12 says: "My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves as a father the son he delights in" (cf. We'll send you an email with steps on how to reset your password. 10:1). . For usage information, please read the Baker Book House Copyright Statement. And so will diligence without God. The genesis of creation was God's overflowing love, and God's plan for creation is rooted in divine goodness. A. Sanders, Suffering as Divine Discipline in the Old Testament and Post-Biblical Judaism. As you resolve to grow and change this year, remember that good intentions without diligence will fail. When the righteous do suffer, the need for theodicy arises: in order for God to be exonerated from the charge of being unjust, justification for the apparently anomalous situation of the suffering of the righteous must be found. A new element in the intertestamental sources is the notion that the judgment of Israel's Gentile oppressors takes place as part of Israel's eschatological vindication (cf. 16:12; 18:13-14; 22:27-23:3; Wis. 3:5; Pss. (Philippians 1:29) 29- For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, Suffering is a means of learning. Individual Suffering. Suffering was never more real than here, but suffering is not the final word, since these were not Christ’s final words. Israel's situation differs from that of other nations, for God, on account of the patriarchs, has promised never ultimately to destroy his people, even when they sin ( Lev 26:42 ; Psalm 106:40-46 ). He has infused suffering with divine meaning, not human meaninglessness. . Suffering in the Christian life is not random or arbitrary, but our suffering is given greater meaning when we remember that Jesus also suffered. The three explanations for the suffering of the righteous individual found in the Old Testament eschatological, remedial, expiatory also occur in the New Testament. Here are five important biblical truths about suffering every Christian should have ready: Suffering has many faces. God disciplines the righteous individual, taking preventative and corrective measures in order to keep the heart of the righteous from turning away from him. Sometimes, the application of the principle is delayed, so that the righteous suffer for a period of time before vindication. Suffering happens in community. Jesus also warns his disciples that their suffering will be an eschatological necessity; until the consummation of the kingdom of God, those who follow him and especially those who proclaim him will experience resistance and hostility from those on the outside (or, to use Johannine terminology, "the world"), especially during the period just prior to the end (cf. Often human wickedness and the persecution of the righteous are expected to intensify greatly just prior to the final judgment and salvation of God (cf. The church is also meant to be a refuge for those who are suffering. He also interprets his impending fate as the fulfillment of the destiny of the suffering servant ( Matt 20:28 ; = Mark 10:45 ; Luke 22:37 ). In some texts, the deliverance expected on completion of God's discipline of the nation through foreign domination is the eschatological deliverance foretold in the prophets. Suffering is a tool God uses to get our attention and to accomplish His purposes in our lives. The same can be true of a collective. 1 Peter 2:9 ). In this worldview, the appearance of suffering in human experience is not random, but has its causal antecedents in an individual's or community's moral decisions. The Maccabean crisis was interpreted as resulting from the sin of the nation; Antiochus's persecution was really God's discipline of an unruly people (cf. The people are placed conditionally under the Torah: obedience brings blessing, while disobedience brings destruction or exile (Deut. General Editor. At other times, it is the direct judgment of God manifesting itself through such things as drought, disease, or foreign invasion. Although in these texts ( Isa 42 , 44 , 49 , 50 , 52-53) the servant is often a collective noun denoting Israel, in Isaiah 53 the servant clearly is an individual who suffers on behalf of the collective, the people. In addition, a fourth explanation, unique to it, appears: Paul writes that suffering has the effect of ensuring his dependence on the power of God in his apostolic labors. of
Babylon, though the instrument of God's judgment against Judah, is also destined for judgment for its atrocities committed against the nation ( Isa 21 ; Jer. "Think ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they have suffered these things?" Jesus interprets his death as expiatory and vicarious. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”. also Exod 20:5 ; Num 14:18 ; Deut 5:9-10 ). Suffering is a tool God uses to get our attention and to accomplish His purposes in our lives. Only a deliberate and forced stubbornness can quench that urge. When a member is hurting, the church applies the bandages; when a member is down, the church encourages; when a member is in need, the church comes alongside to help. We’re on a mission to change that. In line with the eschatological promises of the prophets, many intertestamental sources anticipate a time in the future when Israel will be restored to the land in a state of prosperity, sometimes with the help of a messianic figure. Suffering can draw our interests toward the true God. Cite this chapter as: Barreau H. (2001) The Meaning of Suffering in Buddhism and Christianity. Each of these are different ways that we can suffer, and when suffering comes, often several of these types of suffering are involved. In the intertestamental literature the three explanations for the suffering of the righteous found in the Old Testament also appear. The Many Meanings of the Cross. He has kept you through pain; he has reshaped you more into his image. In the Old Testament, that the principle of retributive justice is operative in the existence of each human being comes to expression most clearly in Proverbs and Psalms. The apostle Paul wrote, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8–9). Christianity acknowledges the reality of suffering and attributes it to the sinful nature of humanity. The New Testament continues what is found in the Old Testament and the intertestamental texts. Suffering is often categorized as physical or mental. Suffering Has Many Faces. 1 Macc 1:64; 2 Macc 6:13-16; 7:18, 32-33, 37-38; Jub. When a … In the Daniel apocalypse, the suffering of those who are "wise" (11:35) is an eschatological necessity. In Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering, Timothy Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City and chairman of the Redeemer City to City church planting network, tackles the subjects of grief, suffering and evil, and why he believes Christianity is humanity's greatest means of making sense of, and utilizing for good the dark moments everyone … Bibliography Information When we share our sufferings with Christ we suffer for the Kingdom and grow in virtue and “complete…Christ’s … Suffering forces us to turn from trust in our own resources to living by faith in God’s resources. An example of a favorite quote, 'Suffering must serve for conversion, that is, for the rebuilding of goodness in the subject, who can recognize the divine mercy in this call to repentance.' Has been bequeathed to the Hebrews ( 12:3-13 ) bound up intricately with the result that retributive justice a! 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