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. The Bible doesn’t whitewash our experience of suffering by saying that it’s all of one stripe. Bibliography Information 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. “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. This fellowship in suffering unites us with the saints of God in all times (James 5:10), and is indeed a fellowship with the Lord Himself (Philippians 3:10), who uses this discipline to mold us more and more according to His character. (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. Bar. A short essay cannot adjudicate between the Existentialism and Christian account of the meaning of suffering. He rose in that body. Christianity is unique in that it faces suffering head on, speaks directly to it, and binds it into the process of salvation. Suffering as the Consequence of Sin. Suffering forces us to turn from trust in our own resources to living by faith in God’s resources. Matt 10:19-23 ; = Luke 12:11 ; Matt 20:22-23 ; = Mark 10:38-39 ; Matt 24:9-10 ; = Mark 13:9-11 ; = Luke 21:12-18 ; John 7:6-11 ; 15:18-25 ; 17:14 ). The New Testament continues what is found in the Old Testament and the intertestamental texts. In our own suffering, Christ allows us to share in the deepest sign of his love. Suffering definition, the state of a person or thing that suffers. 2 Macc. The Many Meanings of the Cross. 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). Why me? 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 Has Many Faces. God saved the world by taking on a human body, living a real life and experiencing real suffering and death. Although the suffering servant seems not to have played a major role in shaping the conceptualities of the extant literature of the intertestamental period, the notion of vicarious suffering and death does crop up now and then, paralleling what is found in Daniel 11:35. The fate of the nation as a corporate entity is bound up intricately with the moral decisions of its individual members. The church is also meant to be a refuge for those who are suffering. The teaching that no suffering is by accident, and that it will all eventually be redeemed, brings me great comfort. 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. Human suffering is thus redeemed. 1. This may necessitate, however, that God discipline the nation when disobedient to the Torah, so that at times it may appear that God favors the nations more than Israel. Some texts call this the kingdom of God (e.g., Pss. The remedial view comes to expression most prominently in the letter to the Hebrews ( 12:3-13 ). When someone in our church is hurting, the church tends to that member’s wounds. On the other hand, Lamentations places the blame for the destruction of Jerusalem squarely on the shoulders of the apostate nation. The church is meant to be a refuge for those suffering. 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. 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 ). The nations of Moab, Edom, and Philistia are singled out for judgment because of their hostile foreign policy toward Judah ( Eze 25:8-17 ). 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. "Think ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they have suffered these things?" 27-28). We naturally try to avoid suffering at all costs. 8:3-6; cf. 8 ). 16:12; 18:13-14; 22:27-23:3; Wis. 3:5; Pss. 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. In the author's experience, the fates of the righteous and the wicked are opposite of what they should be, which only adds to the meaninglessness of life ( 7:15 ; 8:14 ; but cf. 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. The author instructs his readers to "endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons" (v. 7), quoting Proverbs 3:11-12 to make the point. Three types of justification are offered in the Old Testament for the suffering of the righteous: eschatological, remedial, and expiatory. The attitude of the one afflicted should be that of acceptance and even joy that God would relate to him or her as a father who disciplines his children (cf. 3:29-36; 2 Apoc. 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. Barney Zwartz is a Senior Fellow of the Centre for Public Christianity, and a former Fairfax journalist. (p17) And... 'For suffering cannot be transformed and changed by the grace from outside, but from within. 1 Macc 1:64; 2 Macc 6:13-16; 7:18, 32-33, 37-38; Jub. The Apostle Paul experienced various faces of suffering (2 Corinthians 4:8-10). Please enter your email address associated with your Salem All-Pass account, then click Continue. 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 … 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. Paul also believes that God disciplines believers in order to bring about repentance ( 1 Cor 5:1-8 ; 2 Cor 11:17-33 ; 1 Tim 1:20 ). And what is the link between experiencing suffering and equipping for ministry? Rather, it recognizes the multifaceted ways that suffering can come upon us. (Suffering and the Sovereignty of God, 166). It is God’s plan for preserving us and bringing us safely to glory. Job is to accept his suffering without questioning god's wisdom or justice. Jesus interprets his death as expiatory and vicarious. All Christians suffer. "For such a time as this" God raises up Queen Esther to bring deliverance to Israel. At other times, it is the direct judgment of God manifesting itself through such things as drought, disease, or foreign invasion. Christians still suffer as we wait for Jesus to return, but none of our suffering is random or without purpose. Bar. Each of us knows firsthand what it means to suffer as a result of … Ending the suffering caused by illness is often the reason given in support of assisted suicide. God is gain. Suffering as the Consequence of the Flawed Nature of Creation. 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. Suffering was never more real than here, but suffering is not the final word, since these were not Christ’s final words. That’s the meaning of our suffering. It Reminds Us of the Reality of Sin. A woman "had suffered many things of many physicians" (Mark 5:26). 23:29; 1QS 4 11QMelch ). In the Servant Songs of Isaiah, the suffering and death of the servant has a vicarious and expiatory purpose ( Isa 53 ). Suffering is the bearing or undergoing of pain or distress. God established a moral order in creation, with the result that retributive justice is meted out in life experience. ON THE CHRISTIAN MEANING OF HUMAN SUFFERING . Whenever we suffer we experience evil and evil is a distortion of the good. Often there is a differentiation made between this age/world and the age/world to come; the latter follows the resurrection and judgment and is the domain of the righteous alone (4 Ezra; 2 Apoc. Unlike the Old Testament and intertestamental texts, however, the New Testament understands the flawed nature of creation to have been at least partially rectified, inasmuch as the influence of Satan and allied spirits on it has been curtailed through the appearance, death, and resurrection of the Messiah. 50-51). All of our resources exist to guide you toward everlasting joy in Jesus Christ. For usage information, please read the Baker Book House Copyright Statement. also Psalm 94:12 ; Dan 11:35 ). 2, 8, 17-18). The Old Testament, intertestamental literature, and the New Testament present two perspectives on human suffering. 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. Suffering is not in itself virtuous, nor is it a sign of holiness. . 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). Nineveh faces imminent judgment on account of the collective guilt of its inhabitants; national repentance forestalls the wrath of God (Book of Jonah). As in the Old Testament, it is sometimes asserted that, although the Gentile nations are God's instruments of discipline, they are nonetheless in line for similar treatment at the hands of God. In the Old Testament, the intertestamental literature, and the New Testament, suffering more frequently is causally linked to the sins of the descendants of the first man and woman. 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 ). 10:1). also the Book of Daniel). The application of God's retributive justice is postponed, so that the righteous suffer unjustly in this life. J. Carmignac, Revue de Qumran3 (1961): 365-86; J. L. Crenshaw, A Whirlpool of Torment; idem, Theodicy in the Old Testament; C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain; J. S. Pobee, Persecution and Martyrdom in the Theology of Paul; D. Sö le, Suffering; J. Jub. The same can be true of a collective. 9:6-10:1), and the Qumran community understood its own suffering as expiatory (1 QS. The three explanations for the suffering of the righteous individual found in the Old Testament eschatological, remedial, expiatory also occur in the New Testament. Isaiah 65:17 actually speaks of the creation of a new heaven and a new earth. The idea that national suffering is consequent on disobedience to God is continued in the New Testament. One of the counterintuitive truths about suffering is that it prepares Christians for more glory. It is much easier to appreciate the glory of Jesus’ resurrection than his painful crucifixion. The experience of physical pain and/or mental distress. 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). Sol. On the one hand, suffering is the consequence of the flawed nature of creation. Suffering is often categorized as physical or mental. The New Jerusalem of no tears and no pain, of no mourning and no death, hasn’t arrived yet (Revelation 21:1, 4). In these two verses, Paul lists several types of suffering — mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual. Don't waste time. of The church is not meant to be a loosely bound association of functional Lone Rangers. This article first appeared at The Age. What is God doing? All Christians have or will suffer (John 16:33; Acts 14:22). It's a symbol of death, but so much more. Bahodesh 10:1-86). (6) "To suffer death." What you are experiencing from God, you can give away in increasing measure to others. 17 T. Mos. Suffering is a participation in the mystery of Christ and is the way Paul can become like Christ. In the intertestamental literature the three explanations for the suffering of the righteous found in the Old Testament also appear. The people are placed conditionally under the Torah: obedience brings blessing, while disobedience brings destruction or exile (Deut. Pss. 6-7; 1 Enoch 102:3-103:15; 104:6-8; 108:3; 2 Enoch 9:1; 50:1-6; 51:3-5; 65:6-11; 66:6; 4 Ezra 7:18; 2 Apoc. In Proverbs wisdom and the fear of Yahweh are correlated with long life and prosperity; conversely, the wicked and the foolish will die prematurely and be deprived of earthly goods ( 2:21-22 ; Proverbs 3:9-10 Proverbs 3:33-34 ; 5:23 ; 9:11 ; Proverbs 10:3 Proverbs 10:16 Proverbs 10:24 Proverbs 10:27 ; Proverbs 11:18 Proverbs 11:21 Proverbs 11:27-28 ; 16:31 ; 24:19-20 ; 29:25 ). It is designed to build our trust in the Almighty, but suffering requires the right response if it is to be successful in accomplishing God’s purposes. Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I. the King James Version, "For ye suffer fools gladly (the Revised Version (British and American) "ye bear with the foolish gladly"), seeing ye yourselves are wise" (2 Corinthians 11:1,9). Bar. A presupposition of the message preached by the early church was that Jesus' death was vicarious and expiatory. The individual righteous person is at the mercy of the larger historical designs of God. In this view human beings with the exception of the first man and woman are victims, exposed constantly to the perils of a created order gone away. Most people in the world have no experience of lasting joy in their lives. The Old Testament, intertestamental literature, and the New Testament present two perspectives on human suffering. The notion that national calamity originates with national sin prevails in the intertestamental literature. The Book of James similarly identifies trials as a means of engendering holiness ( 1:2-3 ), as does 1 Peter 1:3-9. . This idea receives its clarification from the Christian understanding of sin. 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. You have firsthand experience of both his sustaining grace and his purposeful design. Achan, for instance, disobeys God, but the whole nation is defeated in battle as a consequence of his disobedience ( Joshua 7 ). 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. And it is truer in suffering than anywhere else that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. One Enoch 90, 93, Jubilees 23, and Testament of Moses 8-10, for example see the Antiochean persecution as precipitating the final, eschatological deliverance of God, whereas Psalms of Solomon and 4 Ezra look for messianic deliverance from Roman oppression. 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. See also Discipline; Ecclesiastes, Theology of; Job, Theology of; Justice; Persecution; Providence of God. The words and phrases in the Bible expressing this concept are too numerous to list. But there are some cases of the suffering of the righteous impervious to theodicy. The former is a testimony to God's protection granted to his obedient people against their enemies. "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". Suffering can come because of foolish choices. Get a verified writer to help you with The Meaning of Suffering in Buddhism and Christianity. On the other hand, a person's suffering is the direct consequence of his or her violation of God's laws. A cornerstone of early rabbinic theology is the view that God manifests his mercy to the righteous in this age, in that he allows their suffering, when received with equanimity, to expiate the guilt generated by previous sins (Sipre Deut 6:5 ;  Mek. He has kept you through pain; he has reshaped you more into his image. 2. 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