Friday, 19 of January of 2018

Human Suffering Explained

Human Suffering Confuses People About God
About God’s Love and About The Part Suffering Plays In Every Life

People make many negative judgments about God because there is human suffering. We certainly get the wrong idea about God using this line of thinking. Often, God is denied when “serious” suffering is encountered. The strange thing about blaming God for suffering is that almost always the “accuser” seldom gives any serious thought about God on a day to day basis. God has never been important to them and certainly not at the center of their life.
In God’s plan human suffering is entirely related to man’s free will and also to the limited lifetime of individuals. Human beings just wear out and this is consistent with God’s design. Suffering is part of the test and God allows it because it is a frequent outcome of free will choices. God generally does not stop it or interfere with suffering. We need to go back to God’s purpose to understand human suffering. You can understand that God does not want you to suffer and yet suffering for some people will help them to achieve the goal that God desires for them. In many cases, suffering turns a person away from God as they blame Him for the physical and mental anguish they or others they love are enduring. Simply by understanding what life is all about and in that process coming to understand God as He has revealed Himself, a person would never blame God for suffering.


Human Suffering Explained

Nothing tugs at the heart of a moral person more than seeing others suffer. We all suffer and hope we can avoid the many terrible things most of us have seen. The suffering of young children can be gut wrenching and we say why. Why, God, why is this happening? Why have I suffered this terrible tragedy or my family or friends? How can I stand the pain? Mental anguish over so many things brings us to deep unimaginable depths of tremors and grief. This page, “Human Suffering Explained” provides an answer to the great confusion involving suffering in relation to God. The only place to answer the question correctly is to look at what God has revealed on the subject. That is what we will do, and for many it will be a surprise.

The subject of human suffering is believed to be a good reason not to believe in God. At least not to consider God as a caring, as a loving, benevolent God. This is really unfortunate since at stake is your eternity. Seldom do such people understand God’s purpose for life. God, as usual provides information on this subject, which can easily be extracted if one wants the truth about suffering.

The following is from my book, “What Is Life All about?” specifically chapter 14.6 which is titled, “If There Were a God, He Would Not Allow Suffering.”

If there were a God, He could do what He wants. It would be presumptuous of any man to blame God for suffering or anything else. Sometimes when terrible things happen, we just do not have anyone else to blame. Therefore, we blame God or we overreact and just stop believing He exists. We do not have a fraction of a billionth of His intellect. God is perfect by definition, and this could put certain restraints on Him at least from our human point of view. Restraints imposed by God’s plan for humanity can result in restraints on God.
How, for instance, are mercy and justice perfectly satisfied? How does a loving God permit human suffering? Let me give an example of this latter issue. I decide to hit you over the head with a hammer. God has granted man a free will so I can do that. Pain and suffering (perhaps death) occur, and indeed God allows suffering. Suffering is the result of man’s freedom of choice, and God, even though disliking the action, does not interfere. In the world we live, suffering is a natural consequence of man’s free will. Moses, in the verses below rejects the easy, comfortable life which included the passing pleasures of sin and chooses to suffer the affliction of the people of God looking forward to the reward. Moses suffering was clearly the result of his choice. Most frequently people selfishly choose the short term, immediate reward that eventually brings suffering in this life as well as the hereafter. Even more frequently people suffer due to choices others make that somehow can cause you to suffer. A drunk driver kills your friend or family member. His choice was to drink and drive.

Hebrews 11:24-26

24 By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,
25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin,
26 esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.

There is much more to be said about suffering, and it is discussed in various ways in the book, “What Is Life All About?” but this simple answer is the basis for understanding suffering.

I will make one more point here. Some people, especially centuries ago, believed that certain misfortunes were the result of sin. The disciples of Jesus asked him “who sinned this man or his parents that he was born blind?”

John 9:1-3

1 Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth.
2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.

Jesus told them that it was not the man or his parents’ sins that were the reason, but that the works of God should be revealed in Him. This particular man was to be the recipient of a miracle of Jesus that would cause considerable trouble among the Jewish leaders. I point this out to indicate that unless God reveals something to us, we generally will not understand the true meaning. Very often, we do realize that sinful things done, for instance, by the mother in abusing her body could have an effect on the health of the unborn child. Yet many children are born with “problems,” and the mother in no way abused her body. There are many instances in the area of suffering that we will never understand. Yet understand that God is not the source of suffering, although He allows suffering. In the specific case of His children, God provides certain chastening that is helpful. In just these simple cases, we see the following:

  • The hammer case represents my free will to hurt someone.
  • The works of God were the reason the man was born blind. God allowed the man to be born blind for this ultimate purpose.
  • The woman who abused her body and the baby suffers; her sin hurt her baby.
  • The woman who did not abuse her body but a sickly baby was born. I do not know, but it was not from God. In some way, it follows the natural course of God’s creation and, in some cases, is interwoven with man’s free choice. These choices, sinful or not, were perhaps made generations ago by people related to either the father or the mother of the child or perhaps not related.

Suffering is not “all bad.” I think we understand that many people can learn from suffering. It is truly one of the inexplicable responses to life’s occurrences to see one person come through suffering a bitter man or woman bent on vengeance, and another generally a more thoughtful person comes through that awful experience stronger, wiser, more patient, perhaps even asking “what is life all about.” God points out that for His children, that is, those who are “in Christ,” they will receive suffering. I have copied all of Ephesians 1.1-23 below to emphasize how important it is to be, “in Christ.” It is really all about being “in Christ.” as it is the place of salvation, it is where all the blessings are and without being “in Christ” you have failed in life. It is “in Christ” where you can understand human suffering – correctly!

Ephesians 1:1-23

1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful IN CHRIST JESUS:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Redemption IN CHRIST
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places IN CHRIST,
4 just as He chose us IN HIM before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,
5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,
6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
7 IN HIM we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace
8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence,
9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself,
10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things IN CHRIST, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—IN HIM.
11 IN HIM also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,
12 that we who first trusted IN CHRIST should be to the praise of His glory.
13 IN HIM you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; IN WHOM also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
15 Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST and your love for all the saints,
16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,
18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power
20 which He worked IN CHRIST when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,
21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.
22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church,
23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

God’s Children and Suffering

Hebrews 12:6

6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”

God goes on to say it will benefit the person.

Hebrews 12:11

11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Can you see that God understands man and his feelings; can you see God’s desire to help? Suffering is a consequence of free will and related to sin. As we learn the truth, we also better understand God and understand issues like suffering. Suffering is part of the natural order of things since the sin of Adam.

Romans 5:12-21

12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—
13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.
16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.
17 For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)
18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.
19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.
20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more,
21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Genesis 3:16-19

16 To the woman He said:
“I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;
In pain you shall bring forth children;
Your desire shall be for your husband,
And he shall rule over you.”
17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:
“ Cursed is the ground for your sake;
In toil you shall eat of it
All the days of your life.
18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,
And you shall eat the herb of the field.
19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.”

There is a strong connection between sin and suffering from the beginning. Certainly, sin very, very often, if not always, results in suffering. Sometimes the one committing sin does not suffer in the present, but causes others to suffer. Typically, every person at some time in their life experiences suffering, and most suffer a great deal and/or mentally suffer along with their loved ones. In this process, people question God as to why these things occur. People come closer to God or move farther away because of these experiences. Even a person who pays God “no mind” may, in a moment of considerable suffering, call on God for help only to return to his or her godless life once the distress ends. Some say in great agony, “There cannot be a God; He would not allow this to happen!” We tend to be compassionate with people during their anguish and realize few people truly understand suffering, saying things they should not. God is not behind the suffering but allows it since the sin of Adam. Sin is a transgression of God’s law, thus something
against God.

1 John 3:4

4 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.

Sin has unquestionably resulted in suffering for both the innocent and the guilty. God eventually in the end will eliminate suffering for His children.

Revelation 21:4

4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

He will also provide eternal suffering for sin not forgiven.

Revelation 21:8

8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

Suffering on earth, no matter how bad, is kept short by God. Life itself is extremely short.

James 4:14

14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

This is not the case for the next life as it is eternal. Suffering can for “some” serve the purpose of motivating us to do everything we can to find out “what life is all about.” God looks at everything from an eternal viewpoint. We will be able to understand God better if we also look at everything from an eternal viewpoint.

Romans 8:18

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Suffer as a Christian

There is a critical distinction needed to understand God’s word. The distinction is very simply determining to whom God is making application in His Word. The case in point (Hebrews 12.5-11), does the Bible statement apply to all people or to just children of God or to both? Paul wrote the epistles to Christians.
Many people in their suffering would like to think that God in His love for them is providing this trial; this chastening is part of their strengthening and training. Such suffering provided by God is strictly for His children. That suffering will come from God to you but not directly. It will come indirectly from time to time as a by-product of doing God’s will. The test of being a child of God is “not personally believing you are one” or “having someone tell you that you are saved.” Neither does the suffering that you endure indicate that you are His child. The test for being a child of God is having responded to the commands of God. Specifically the process of conversion as indicated in Conversions Of The New Testament. Even a child of God cannot be certain if their suffering was from God for their benefit or was just the natural course of things. Do not be confused; I am sure that all suffering has the potential of providing a wake-up call to every person indicating the seriousness and often the shortness of life. God’s children, however, are unique in suffering. There is chastening by their heavenly Father out of love to help them maintain a grave seriousness regarding their personal faithfulness and mission for souls. This occurs in the process of doing God’s will and thus the idea of suffering as a Christian. It is apparent that Jesus’ suffering was directly associated with doing the will of the Father. Jesus would tell the disciples (John 17.14) that because He has given them the Word of God, the world would hate them just as they hated Him (John 15.18; John 17.14). He makes the distinction not just for those disciples but also for all those who are in His kingdom. The distinction is that there are two worlds:

  •  The world we know as the physical world, which, in the sense Jesus uses, is lost spiritually
  •  The world that is different and Jesus says, “My Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18.36). It is the kingdom or the church, and it consists of the saved.

Therefore, the suffering associated with living the principles of God or “suffering as a Christian” is for God’s children and occurs because of their obedience in a world that “hates” them. God’s children do not cherish the suffering and would like to avoid it, but their focus is on doing the will of God and understanding if suffering does come, it can make them stronger.

NOTE: The world of religion has done an incredibly poor, really despicable job of creating so much error around sin – and it starts with the absolute total nonsense of original sin and total inherited depravity. I have little sympathy for this error and all the associated error it has brought. It is very serious and keeps people from being, “IN CHRIST.” The truth is as always simple, but bringing people from their deep beliefs on this matter, however unfounded takes some very straight forward discussion. Therefore for truth seekers, I recommend you read the following, “The Fall Of Catholicism and Protestantism In One Simple Lesson.

Final Thoughts On Suffering

There is one very powerful lesson to be learned from suffering, namely that suffering should bring fear. The fear of losing your soul and missing out on heaven. God is very direct in connecting the person dying in sin to the eternal suffering that will follow.

Hebrews 10:31

31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

The idea of fear, like suffering brings many to reject God, while for others it is as the scriptures teach, “the beginning of knowledge.” Fear God and obey his commandments is the best advice as Solomon finally realized. Paul instructed the Philippians to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling. It is of course, the FEAR OF SUFFERING and God points to things that would be excruciating painful. I have no doubt that many realize that God will be found true and few will find the way to eternal life. This we know is not what God wants, but it is most certainly the outcome for most of the world. The suffering, which so many fear will become a reality and largely because they do not want to think about the words from God. As a result, the world denies God, even his existence. This of course, will change nothing for God will have his vengeance on the ones who denied His Son.

2 Thessalonians 1:8

8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The suffering you observe should help you to fear the seriousness of failing in life and its consequences.

Those Looking for Answers, Consolation In Their Present Suffering

There is not much comfort in what is written above, although the truth is always comforting to people looking for truth. Jesus charged His disciples to be comforting whenever they have the opportunity. He told them in Matthew 25.35-45 that when they helped others in need (the least of these My brethren) it was as though they were doing it to Him. People need comfort in difficult times so they do not lose hope.
In your present suffering regardless of the nature of your suffering, there is comfort for those who can forgo the pleasures of this life and live for Christ and the gospel. There is no ultimate comfort in any other place.

2 Corinthians 4.16-18

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 
18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

These three verses speak very directly to death (outward man perishing) suffering (light affliction) and comfort (eternal weight of glory). Then they place the value of earthly “seen” things as temporary and “unseen” things as eternal. There is comfort in this for God’s children, but those outside Christ there is no comfort.

Here is the comfort God promises to those who choose obedience to the gospel and a faithful life.

Revelation 21:4

4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Finally, if you want to gain your life, Jesus says you must lose it. If you do that the promise of Revelation 21.4 will be yours.

Mark 8.35,36

35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 
36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?

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