When we share our sufferings with Christ we suffer for the Kingdom and grow in virtue and “complete…Christ’s … 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). 12). This reveals that there is another meaning to suffering. Each of these are different ways that we can suffer, and when suffering comes, often several of these types of suffering are involved. Suffering is a tool God uses to get our attention and to accomplish His purposes in our lives. 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. 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. Or. 12:13-14 ). Bar. Firsthand experience in suffering is essential in equipping us for ministry. 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 suffering of the righteous also has a remedial function. Retributive justice is sometimes conceived as the working out of a moral law imminent in creation, as in the Book of Proverbs. 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. God himself is gain. Suffering in the Christian life is not random or arbitrary, but our suffering is given greater meaning when we remember that Jesus also suffered. 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. We naturally try to avoid suffering at all costs. 16:12; 18:13-14; 22:27-23:3; Wis. 3:5; Pss. The Cross is a great contradiction. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:17–18, “This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. 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. The believer should not be puzzled at suffering, because the Bible plainly states that it is a necessary part of the Christian life. Why now? 8:3-6; cf. The teaching that no suffering is by accident, and that it will all eventually be redeemed, brings me great comfort. We’re on a mission to change that. 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. Salem Media Group. In the Beatitudes Jesus teaches that the appearance of the kingdom of God will bring an eschatological reversal, so that the righteous who now suffer will no longer ( Matt 5:3-12 ; Luke 6:20-26 ). It is much easier to appreciate the glory of Jesus’ resurrection than his painful crucifixion. 25-29; 70-71; 4 Ezra 5:1-13; 8:50; 9:1-6; 16:70-73). At other times, it is the direct judgment of God manifesting itself through such things as drought, disease, or foreign invasion. 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. 27-28). 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. Cite this chapter as: Barreau H. (2001) The Meaning of Suffering in Buddhism and Christianity. That sometimes the righteous suffer for no apparent reason is the thesis of the Book of Job. 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 ). "Think ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they have suffered these things?" 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 ). Nineveh faces imminent judgment on account of the collective guilt of its inhabitants; national repentance forestalls the wrath of God (Book of Jonah). See also Discipline; Ecclesiastes, Theology of; Job, Theology of; Justice; Persecution; Providence of God. You are learning both the tenderness and the clarity necessary to help sanctify another person’s deepest distress. A woman "had suffered many things of many physicians" (Mark 5:26). Declaring the power of salvific suffering, the Apostle Paul says: "In my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for … Whenever we suffer we experience evil and evil is a distortion of the good. Sir. ; early rabbinic writings). All of our resources exist to guide you toward everlasting joy in Jesus Christ. Some texts call this the kingdom of God (e.g., Pss. The words and phrases in the Bible expressing this concept are too numerous to list. 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 ). The Book of Judges, similarly, interprets Israel's suffering through foreign domination as stemming from national disobedience to the law ( 2:6-23 ). The New Jerusalem of no tears and no pain, of no mourning and no death, hasn’t arrived yet (Revelation 21:1, 4). Please enter your email address associated with your Salem All-Pass account, then click Continue. 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). This idea receives its clarification from the Christian understanding of sin. 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. A presupposition of the message preached by the early church was that Jesus' death was vicarious and expiatory. General Editor. "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". In Jesus’ announcements of suffering the Christian understanding of suffering is clearly expressed: suffering is not the final aim and end in itself in the realization of human destiny; it is the gateway to resurrection, to rebirth, to new creation. In these two verses, Paul lists several types of suffering — mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual. Job is to accept his suffering without questioning god's wisdom or justice. The Many Meanings of the Cross. In so doing he dismisses the easy answers and constructs a much more nuanced, complex but satisfying approach. Either you have, you are, or you will — “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). Suffering can draw our interests toward the true God. 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). 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. 1. also the Book of Daniel). In this regard, the Book of Esther stands in contrast to Lamentations. He has kept you through pain; he has reshaped you more into his image. The eschatological argument for the suffering of the righteous figures prominently in many texts. 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. (6) "To suffer death." The meaning is this: God is gain. The Old Testament, intertestamental literature, and the New Testament present two perspectives on human 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. In doing so, God didn’t take away suffering — He transformed it. Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I. Each of us knows firsthand what it means to suffer as a result of … Cities are also threatened with judgment on account of their rejection of Jesus or his emissaries ( Matt 11:20-24 ; = Luke 10:13-15 ). The experience of physical pain and/or mental distress. 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. 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. The idea that national suffering is consequent on disobedience to God is continued in the New Testament. 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 it is truer in suffering than anywhere else that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. Don't waste time. Rather, it recognizes the multifaceted ways that suffering can come upon us. Most people experience suffering at some time in their life. The New Testament continues what is found in the Old Testament and the intertestamental texts. It could also happen that the sin of a minority or even one individual within Israel could have consequences for the nation. Sometimes, the application of the principle is delayed, so that the righteous suffer for a period of time before vindication. The fate of the nation as a corporate entity is bound up intricately with the moral decisions of its individual members. A short essay cannot adjudicate between the Existentialism and Christian account of the meaning of suffering. 1 Peter 2:9 ). Human suffering is thus redeemed. 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 ). Collective Suffering. Bar. Similarly, in 2 Peter 3:13 and Revelation 21:1, the Isaian concept of the new heaven and new earth finds expression. (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. Bow under His loving hand and recognize that above the clouds the sun is shining. Suffering belongs to the discipline of all Christ's followers (Romans 8:17; 2 Corinthians 1:7; Galatians 3:4; Philippians 3:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:5; 2 Timothy 2:12; 3:12; James 5:10; 1 Peter 2:20; 3:14,17; 4:1,13,16; 5:10). Pope John Paul II used the Scriptures in Salvifici Doloris to enter into the Christian meaning of human suffering. That’s the meaning of our suffering. 1915. In: Tymieniecka AT., Agazzi E. (eds) Life Interpretation and the Sense of Illness within the Human Condition. 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 ). Although his comforters defend the principle of retributive justice and conclude that Job cannot be innocent, as he claims, the reader knows that they are wrong: Job speaks truly about his moral condition. Suffering is a privilege. Nonetheless, at the judgment of the dead, God will vindicate those who are martyred, raising them to everlasting life (Dan. 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. (Luke 13:2). Wherever there is suffering, there is a battle — a battle for your soul. The wicked, on the other hand, he destroys. 1:5; 78:3-4; 79:2). 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 ). It's a symbol of death, but so much more. The individual righteous person is at the mercy of the larger historical designs of God. 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. God could have saved the world through a single word, but He didn’t. Suffering as the Consequence of the Flawed Nature of Creation. God established a moral order in creation, with the result that retributive justice is meted out in life experience. Proud member 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 genesis of creation was God's overflowing love, and God's plan for creation is rooted in divine goodness. The former is a testimony to God's protection granted to his obedient people against their enemies. also Exod 20:5 ; Num 14:18 ; Deut 5:9-10 ). 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. HIRE verified writer $35.80 for a 2-page paper But there are some cases of the suffering of the righteous impervious to theodicy. of Suffering is not in itself virtuous, nor is it a sign of holiness. 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. The Book of James similarly identifies trials as a means of engendering holiness ( 1:2-3 ), as does 1 Peter 1:3-9. But just because we experience suffering as we await the redemption of our bodies, it doesn’t mean that our suffering is random or without purpose. 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. Each of these are different ways that we can suffer, and when suffering comes, often several of these types of suffering are involved. Suffering definition, the state of a person or thing that suffers. 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. On account of the disobedience of Eve and then Adam, a wretched legacy has been bequeathed to the human race. 17 T. Mos. The church is also meant to be a refuge for those who are suffering. 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). 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. Bibliography Information Achan, for instance, disobeys God, but the whole nation is defeated in battle as a consequence of his disobedience ( Joshua 7 ). The meaning of suffering is given us above all in Jesus’ suffering which is his love for us, for our redemption. At other times, the correlation between righteousness and longevity/prosperity in this life breaks down altogether. Israel's covenant at Sinai is a special historical manifestation of the principle of retributive justice. 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. The Apostle Paul experienced various faces of suffering (2 Corinthians 4:8-10). Christians still suffer as we wait for Jesus to return, but none of our suffering is random or without purpose. And neither does it mean that Scripture doesn’t tell us how to think about our suffering now. 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. A simple upright post with a transverse bar used crucifixion. 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 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. Individual Suffering. This article first appeared at The Age. The words and phrases in the Bible expressing this concept are too numerous to list. (2) "To experience," "to go through,"' "to endure": "I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him" (Matthew 27:19). Job suffers, yet he is righteous. The Old Testament, intertestamental literature, and the New Testament present two perspectives on human suffering. Suffering is a participation in the mystery of Christ and is the way Paul can become like Christ. 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. We'll send you an email with steps on how to reset your password. Sol. The Bible even tells us why we suffer. 1 Macc 1:64; 2 Macc 6:13-16; 7:18, 32-33, 37-38; Jub. When a … 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. 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). "Entry for 'SUFFERING'". Suffering forces us to turn from trust in our own resources to living by faith in God’s resources. 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. 3.632-51; 1 QH. Sin as the misuse of human freedom has led humans into total opposition … 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. The experience of physical pain and/or mental distress. 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. The sins of a man will adversely affect his descendants: "Yet he [God] does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generations" ( Exod 34:7 ; cf. 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. (p17) And... 'For suffering cannot be transformed and changed by the grace from outside, but from within. All Christians have or will suffer (John 16:33; Acts 14:22). 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. There is a fourth interpretation of the suffering of the righteous individual that comes to expression in the New Testament. The Books of Job and Ecclesiastes. Generally, in the Old Testament, God deals with human beings on the principle of retributive justice. Christianity acknowledges the reality of suffering and attributes it to the sinful nature of humanity. This reality is a stark reminder that we have not reached the new heavens and new earth. Barney Zwartz is a Senior Fellow of the Centre for Public Christianity, and a former Fairfax journalist. Regular, disciplined Bible intake is not optional for God’s people. Paul confronts that type of thinking when he writes, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). 23; 1 Enoch 100:1-3; 107; Sib. Paul, likewise, believes that the nation is temporarily rejected by God until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in ( Rom 11 ). The chief end of man is to glorify God. 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. Suffering is often categorized as physical or mental. In these two verses, Paul lists several types of suffering — mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual. All rights reserved. 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 … What you are experiencing from God, you can give away in increasing measure to others. It is God’s plan for preserving us and bringing us safely to glory. 1-3; 2 Thess 1:4-10 ; Heb 10:32-34 ; James 5:11 ; 1 Peter 2:18-20 ; 3:13-4:19 ; Rev 2:10 ; 4-22 ). But how? 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 ). The remedial view comes to expression most prominently in the letter to the Hebrews ( 12:3-13 ). The Book of Ecclesiastes also questions the causal relation between righteousness and prosperity. “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. The church is not meant to be a loosely bound association of functional Lone Rangers. God is gain. But God brings suffering in our lives for the sake of our eternal joy — yes, even glory. He rose in that body. Suffering is a tool God uses to get our attention and to accomplish His purposes in our lives. 23 T. Mos. Isaiah 65:17 actually speaks of the creation of a new heaven and a new earth. 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. Get a verified writer to help you with The Meaning of Suffering in Buddhism and Christianity. Bar. Suffering as the Consequence of Sin. The church is meant to be a refuge for those suffering. Suffering can come because of foolish choices. 50-51). 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.” My dear Christian friend, if you are today suffering at the hand of God and you have asked a thousand times, “Why?” I beg of you to be patient and quiet before God, and listen to the still, small voice. Jub. Copyright © 2021, Bible Study Tools. Suffering in this world is a stone-cold reality in Christianity -- Jesus Christ Himself, God Incarnate, suffered betrayal, indignity, torture and a grueling death. . Christianity is unique in that it faces suffering head on, speaks directly to it, and binds it into the process of salvation.