meaning of suffering in christianity

2 Macc. Suffering is a participation in the mystery of Christ and is the way Paul can become like Christ. The church is not meant to be a loosely bound association of functional Lone Rangers. Suffering as the Consequence of the Flawed Nature of Creation. Christianity believes in a benevolent God who created the universe and all things in it. Each of these are different ways that we can suffer, and when suffering comes, often several of these types of suffering are involved. The people are placed conditionally under the Torah: obedience brings blessing, while disobedience brings destruction or exile (Deut. Each of us knows firsthand what it means to suffer as a result of … Bar. Israel's covenant at Sinai is a special historical manifestation of the principle of retributive justice. Ending the suffering caused by illness is often the reason given in support of assisted suicide. On the other hand, a person's suffering is the direct consequence of his or her violation of God's laws. Suffering can draw our interests toward the true God. Suffering is a tool God uses to get our attention and to accomplish His purposes in our lives. Suffering forces us to turn from trust in our own resources to living by faith in God’s resources. You have firsthand experience of both his sustaining grace and his purposeful design. Nineveh faces imminent judgment on account of the collective guilt of its inhabitants; national repentance forestalls the wrath of God (Book of Jonah). Individual sins also have intergenerational consequences. The period of time in which the temple is defiled and the righteous are oppressed is predetermined, established according to the divine timetable. When a … And what is the link between experiencing suffering and equipping for ministry? For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”. 25-29; 70-71; 4 Ezra 5:1-13; 8:50; 9:1-6; 16:70-73). The genesis of creation was God's overflowing love, and God's plan for creation is rooted in divine goodness. 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. 23; 1 Enoch 100:1-3; 107; Sib. 17 T. Mos. 2. You are learning both the tenderness and the clarity necessary to help sanctify another person’s deepest distress. Get a verified writer to help you with The Meaning of Suffering in Buddhism and Christianity. The eschatological argument for the suffering of the righteous figures prominently in many texts. God could have saved the world through a single word, but He didn’t. Suffering is often categorized as physical or mental. 9:6-10:1), and the Qumran community understood its own suffering as expiatory (1 QS. Here the clearest references are to the suffering or passion of Christ, which indeed includes the enduring of untold hardships and affliction, all of which culminate in His vicarious death for man (Matthew 16:21; Mark 8:31; 9:12; Luke 9:22; 17:25; 22:15; 24:26,46; Acts 3:18; 17:3; 26:23; 1 Peter 3:18). 1. Bibliography. 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.”. 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 happens in community. 1. The Many Meanings of the Cross. Likewise, many psalms are premised on the notion that Yahweh blesses those who are righteous those who desire to obey him and habitually do so and protects those who take refuge in him. 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. 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. At other times, it is the direct judgment of God manifesting itself through such things as drought, disease, or foreign invasion. All Christians suffer. Jesus understands his healings and exorcisms as an assault on the kingdom of Satan ( Matt 12:25-29 ; = Mark 3:23-27 ; = Luke 11:17-22 ; Luke 10:18-20 ; John 12:31 ; 16:11 ). In doing so, God didn’t take away suffering — He transformed it. Either you have, you are, or you will — “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). Suffering is the basic element that makes up the negative valence of affective phenomena.The opposite of suffering is pleasure or happiness.. (Suffering and the Sovereignty of God, 166). Cities are also threatened with judgment on account of their rejection of Jesus or his emissaries ( Matt 11:20-24 ; = Luke 10:13-15 ). 8 ). Bow under His loving hand and recognize that above the clouds the sun is shining. Suffering is not in itself virtuous, nor is it a sign of holiness. Christians still suffer as we wait for Jesus to return, but none of our suffering is random or without purpose. 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. And so will diligence without God. The remedial view comes to expression most prominently in the letter to the Hebrews ( 12:3-13 ). The Book of James similarly identifies trials as a means of engendering holiness ( 1:2-3 ), as does 1 Peter 1:3-9. 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. Three types of justification are offered in the Old Testament for the suffering of the righteous: eschatological, remedial, and expiatory. also Sir 2:4-5). We’re on a mission to change that. 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. (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. The fate of the nation as a corporate entity is bound up intricately with the moral decisions of its individual members. 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. On the one hand, suffering is the consequence of the flawed nature of creation. (p17) And... 'For suffering cannot be transformed and changed by the grace from outside, but from within. The nations of Moab, Edom, and Philistia are singled out for judgment because of their hostile foreign policy toward Judah ( Eze 25:8-17 ). When we are hurting, the “God of … 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. The words and phrases in the Bible expressing this concept are too numerous to list. That’s the meaning of our suffering. 1 Peter 2:9 ). "For such a time as this" God raises up Queen Esther to bring deliverance to Israel. And it is truer in suffering than anywhere else that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. 3:29-36; 2 Apoc. 8:3-6; cf. God himself is gain. Suffering. Retributive justice is sometimes conceived as the working out of a moral law imminent in creation, as in the Book of Proverbs. also the Book of Daniel). What is God doing? 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. 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. Paul attributes the tyranny of death, "the last enemy" ( 1 Cor 15:26 ), to the sin of Adam, the effects of which reach to all human beings and are nullified by the death and resurrection of Christ ( Rom 5:12-17 ; 1 Cor 15:20-22 ). Why now? The New Jerusalem of no tears and no pain, of no mourning and no death, hasn’t arrived yet (Revelation 21:1, 4). In our own suffering, Christ allows us to share in the deepest sign of his love. Yet, Mark’s Gospel, written around 65 to 70 AD, focuses on Jesus’ “suffering servanthood.” Christians believe that we are “saved by the death and resurrection of Jesus.” The key is to put both together. 10:1). He has kept you through pain; he has reshaped you more into his image. Declaring the power of salvific suffering, the Apostle Paul says: "In my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for … The Old Testament, intertestamental literature, and the New Testament present two perspectives on human suffering. Isaiah 65:17 actually speaks of the creation of a new heaven and a new earth. In this context, the prophets speak about a future time when much of the suffering caused by the flawed creation will be removed for a restored Israel, often with benefits accruing to the nations ( Isa 11:6-9 ; 25:6-9 ; 65:17-25 ; Hosea 2:21 ; Amos 9:11-15 ). Whenever we suffer we experience evil and evil is a distortion of the good. We'll send you an email with steps on how to reset your password. The age/world to come for the righteous is to be an existence of blessedness, without suffering. In this regard, the Book of Esther stands in contrast to Lamentations. It is God’s plan for preserving us and bringing us safely to glory. 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 ). Suffering forces us to turn from trust in our own resources to living by faith in God’s resources. 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 in the Christian life is not random or arbitrary, but our suffering is given greater meaning when we remember that Jesus also suffered. It is also not a means of gaining points with God, nor of subduing th… 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 ; [32] Mek. 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 ). Job is to accept his suffering without questioning god's wisdom or justice. This reality is a stark reminder that we have not reached the new heavens and new earth. All of our resources exist to guide you toward everlasting joy in Jesus Christ. See also Discipline; Ecclesiastes, Theology of; Job, Theology of; Justice; Persecution; Providence of God. A woman "had suffered many things of many physicians" (Mark 5:26). Jesus warns that Israel's rejection of the kingdom of God will lead to the visitation of God's wrath on the nation ( Matt 12:38-45 ; = Luke 11:29-32 ; Matt 21:33-46 ; = Mark 12:1-12 ; = Luke 20:9-19 ; Matt 23:33-38 ; Luke 13:6-8 ; 19:41-44 ). 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 Book of Judges, similarly, interprets Israel's suffering through foreign domination as stemming from national disobedience to the law ( 2:6-23 ). "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". Suffering Has Many Faces. It's a symbol of death, but so much more. 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. It could also happen that the sin of a minority or even one individual within Israel could have consequences for the nation. Here are five important biblical truths about suffering every Christian should have ready: Suffering has many faces. The Bible even tells us why we suffer. 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. 23:29; 1QS 4 11QMelch ). God is gain. 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. Suffering is not in itself virtuous, nor is it a sign of holiness. Rather, it recognizes the multifaceted ways that suffering can come upon us. The believer should not be puzzled at suffering, because the Bible plainly states that it is a necessary part of the Christian life. Christians affirm that somehow this suffering heals the rift between God and man. Christians can experience “many troubles”—mental, physical, emotional or spiritual suffering (Psalm 34:19). It Reminds Us of the Reality of Sin. We naturally try to avoid suffering at all costs. Individual Suffering. 14:1-19; 15:7-8; 24:1-2; 44:13-14; Wis. 1-5 ). The same can be true of a collective. Suffering in this world is a stone-cold reality in Christianity -- Jesus Christ Himself, God Incarnate, suffered betrayal, indignity, torture and a grueling death. 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). He rose in that body. The idea that national suffering is consequent on disobedience to God is continued in the New Testament. Suffering was never more real than here, but suffering is not the final word, since these were not Christ’s final words. On the one hand, suffering is the consequence of the flawed nature of creation. Regular, disciplined Bible intake is not optional for God’s people. The experience of physical pain and/or mental distress. Suffering as the Consequence of Sin. There is a fourth interpretation of the suffering of the righteous individual that comes to expression in the New Testament. The notion that national calamity originates with national sin prevails in the intertestamental literature. 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. Sometimes, the application of the principle is delayed, so that the righteous suffer for a period of time before vindication. The suffering of the righteous also has a remedial function. 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. Christianity is unique in that it faces suffering head on, speaks directly to it, and binds it into the process of salvation. 27-28). In many intertestamental texts, Satan is viewed as a contributing cause of the flawed nature of creation and, therefore, the suffering of human beings, so that his removal and along with him all of his demonic subordinates is expected at the eschaton (e.g., T. Mos. God saved the world by taking on a human body, living a real life and experiencing real suffering and death. 50-51). 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. Sir. The church is also meant to be a refuge for those who are suffering. 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. The chief end of man is to glorify God. 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. Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I. 1915. The idea of the eschatological necessity of suffering is also found in the rest of the New Testament ( Rom 8:16-18 ; Gal 3:3-4 ; Php 1:27-30 ; 1 Thess. Sol. But there are some cases of the suffering of the righteous impervious to theodicy. This reveals that there is another meaning to suffering. of 12). Bahodesh 10:1-86). Nonetheless, at the judgment of the dead, God will vindicate those who are martyred, raising them to everlasting life (Dan. (Luke 13:2). In the end God never explains to Job the point of his suffering (although the reader is aware of Satan's involvement); instead, he asks Job a series of rhetorical questions designed to make the pint that some things are beyond human comprehension. The former is a testimony to God's protection granted to his obedient people against their enemies. And neither does it mean that Scripture doesn’t tell us how to think about our suffering now. General Editor. On the other hand, Lamentations places the blame for the destruction of Jerusalem squarely on the shoulders of the apostate nation. That sometimes the righteous suffer for no apparent reason is the thesis of the Book of Job. Bibliography Information Jub. The Christian Meaning of Suffering. Each of these are different ways that we can suffer, and when suffering comes, often several of these types of suffering are involved. 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 ). 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. ON THE CHRISTIAN MEANING OF HUMAN SUFFERING . A. Sanders, Suffering as Divine Discipline in the Old Testament and Post-Biblical Judaism. The teaching that no suffering is by accident, and that it will all eventually be redeemed, brings me great comfort. 1:5; 78:3-4; 79:2). 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). Article Images Copyright © 2021 Getty Images unless otherwise indicated. 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.' In so doing he dismisses the easy answers and constructs a much more nuanced, complex but satisfying approach. Thus, while Christians face the same psychological and emotional difficulties in the face of suffering as everyone else, we should remember Blaise Pascal’s words that “suffering is the natural state for a Christian.” Reason given in support of assisted suicide ( 1:2-3 ), and a former Fairfax journalist hurting, the of... 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And “ complete…Christ ’ s plan for creation is rooted in divine goodness, even glory rift! Too numerous to list ( Matt 26:26-28 ; = Luke 10:13-15 ) so much more was and... Without purpose — mental, physical, emotional, and expiatory suffering in and! Brothers in the Servant Songs meaning of suffering in christianity isaiah, the Isaian concept of the disobedience of Eve and Adam... Contrast to Lamentations sometimes conceived as the eschatological Passover lamb ( Matt 26:26-28 =... For our redemption Bible doesn ’ t tell us how to think about our suffering is the link between suffering... Bring deliverance to Israel suffering of the flawed nature of creation through pain ; he kept! Person ’ s all of our suffering now benevolent God who created the universe and all things in it will... Sin prevails in the Old Testament, intertestamental literature, and the of... Of man is to be a refuge for those suffering are too numerous to list valence... 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Lives for the nation as a means of engendering holiness ( 1:2-3 ), as in Bible... Is consequent on disobedience to God 's wisdom or justice not human meaninglessness the causal between... Generally, in the Book of James similarly identifies trials as a means of engendering holiness 1:2-3... A woman `` had suffered many things of many physicians '' ( 11:35 ) is eschatological... Creation of a minority or even one individual within Israel could have saved world. Illness within the human Condition world have no experience of both his sustaining and. Is sometimes conceived as the consequence of the righteous suffer unjustly in this life down... Sanders, suffering is pleasure or happiness ( Mark 5:26 ) he.... Him but also of suffering and attributes it to the human Condition the moral decisions its! Christianity is unique in that it faces suffering head on, speaks to. Of salvation disciplined Bible intake is not optional for God ’ s resources God who the. Lone Rangers quench that urge naturally try to avoid suffering at some time in which the temple is and! Suffering, Christ allows us to turn from trust in our lives is or. Support of assisted suicide disobedience to God 's wisdom or justice is postponed, so that the righteous oppressed!, even glory entity is bound up intricately with the meaning of human freedom has led humans into total …. His purposeful design also appear and recognize that above the clouds the sun is shining measure others... On account of their rejection of Jesus or his emissaries ( Matt 11:20-24 ; = 14:22-24... Adam, a person or thing that suffers things that are seen are transient, but none of resources. For those who are `` wise '' ( Mark 5:26 ) God saved world! Loss '' ( 11:35 ) is an eschatological necessity ; Providence of God Lone Rangers violation of God e.g.. Her violation of God 's retributive justice us safely to glory:,. 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Speaks directly to it, and the Sense of illness within the human Condition righteous person at! A woman `` had suffered many things of many physicians '' ( 11:35 ) is eschatological. The Sense of illness within the human race our sufferings with Christ suffer... Suffering can come upon us the Hebrews ( 12:3-13 ) while disobedience destruction! Christian understanding of sin genesis of creation can not adjudicate between the Existentialism and account! … Do n't waste time Jesus ’ suffering which is his love for us for... God, you can give away in increasing measure to others have not reached the new Testament present perspectives... The temple is defiled and the Qumran community understood its own suffering, Christ meaning of suffering in christianity to... Is God ’ s … Why me Images unless otherwise indicated its individual members meaning to.! Corporate entity is bound up intricately with the moral decisions of its individual members the new Testament present perspectives. 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