On this episode of Theology Gals Ashley and Coleen discuss suffering. They talk about what Scripture says about the reasons why we may suffer, how we should respond to our suffering and how we can encourage others who are suffering.
(We had a couple technical difficulties during this episode. A hail storm hit Coleen's home in Colorado towards the end of the episode and can be heard.)
There are many kinds of suffering. We face short term trials, and we can may experience very difficult and long term suffering.
While the Lord may discipline us for our good, suffering is not always the result of sin or discipline:
7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Hebrews 12:7-11
In Hebrews 12 we see that even when the Lord disciplines us, He does so for our good, because He loves us, in the same way parents discipline their.
But we also know from Job and other places in Scripture that our suffering is not always the result of discipline.
It's easy to assume that our suffering is a result of our sin, in John 9 the disciples assumed that very thing:
1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him John 9:1-3
This is an excerpt from an article by RC Sproul on this passage:
“However, the disciples made the mistake of particularizing the general relationship between sin and suffering. They assumed there was a direct correspondence between the blind man’s sin and his affliction. Had they not read the book of Job, which deals with a man who was innocent and yet was severely afflicted by God? The disciples erred in reducing the options to two when there was another alternative. They posed their question to Jesus in an either/or fashion, committing the logical fallacy of the false dilemma, assuming that the sin of the man or the sin of the man’s parents was the cause of his blindness.
“The disciples also seem to have assumed that anyone who has an affliction suffers in direct proportion to the sin that has been committed. Again, the book of Job dashes that conclusion, for the degree of suffering Job was called to bear was astronomical compared with the suffering and afflictions of others far more guilty than he was.
“We must never jump to the conclusion that a particular incidence of suffering is a direct response or in direct correspondence to a person’s particular sin. The story of the man born blind makes this point.”
There's also teaching in some circles that suffering is due to a lack of faith. Some believe in regards to healing for instance, that the Lord withholds it because the sufferer has a lack of faith, but that is not Biblical. They also may believe that God promises us healing and wealth which also is not consistent with Scripture.
Reasons for Suffering:
Our suffering tests and prepares us & teaches us to rely on God
6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor …