Summary: Why do we suffer?
Why is there so much suffering? Why do we suffer? Why have I suffered? Is there purpose for suffering? What do you feel when you hear about someone suffering? Does it matter who it is? What do you do when you are in the midst of very traumatic times? Where is God when this happens? Why would God allow anyone to suffer? You probably have thought about these questions and many more, especially when it is you or someone close to you who is suffering. Rarely do we understand anything during our suffering. Normally we just want it to end. I have a good friend who says that when we do not learn from our experiences, it is a missed opportunity for growth! Is that true with suffering?
Lets start at the beginning of creation. Did God initially plan for us to suffer in his creation? In the book of Genesis throughout the story of creation it says God saw what he was creating and it was good. It is written five times God saw that it was good. After six days all creation was completed “Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was excellent in every way.”(Genesis 1:31) Does this sound like God originally planned for us to suffer in his creation? If not, where did suffering come from? As the book of Genesis continues, the serpent tempted Eve and then Eve convinced Adam to disobey God and they ate the forbidden fruit of the tree. God responded, how could you do such a thing? Then God said to the women, “You will bear children with intense pain and suffering” (Genesis 3:16). This is the first time that suffering is mentioned in the Bible. Unfortunately, it will not be the last time. To Adam God said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate the fruit I told you not to eat, I have placed a curse on the ground. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. All your life you will sweat to produce food until your dying day. Then you will return to the ground from which you came. You were made from dust, and to the dust you will return.” Does that sound good and excellent in every way to you? Then God said to the serpent, “Because you did this, you will be punished. You will be singled out from all the domestic and wild animals of the whole earth to be cursed. You will grovel in the dust as long as you live, crawling along on your belly.” No wonder I do not like snakes! “He will crush your head and you strike his heel.” What did God mean? Satan (the serpent) is our enemy. He will do anything he can to have us follow him. When God said “ He will crush your head and you strike at his heal” He is referring to Satan’s repeated attempts to defeat the Son of God during his life on earth. He will crush your head tells of Satan’s defeat when Christ rises from the dead. A strike on the heel is not deadly, but a crushing blow to the head is. In the beginning, God was already revealing to us his plan to defeat Satan and offer salvation to the world through his Son Jesus Christ. Was suffering to penalize us for our choices in the beginning? Is suffering a result of today’s sin? Do we ever suffer without sin being the root cause? Is suffering part of God’s plan for us? Is there any benefit to suffering? Why suffer?
The book of Job is a good one to read in order to understand some, if not all, of this. What follows is a brief summation of this book. Job was a prosperous farmer who had a life that was filled with prestige, possessions, and people. Job was a fine man with great integrity who feared God, did good works, and would have nothing to do with evil. Then, through no action or fault of his own, Job lost all his wealth, his children, and even his own health. When this was happening, his friends were quick to judge. Most were convinced this all happened to him because of some great sin(s) that Job committed. Job knew better but could not understand why it was all happening to him. However, he never blamed God for any of it. Even after Job’s wife said to give up, curse God, and die, he did not. With Job’s growing desire to understand why he was suffering, he did question God. Nevertheless, through it all, he did not blame or lose his faith in God. Little did Job know that Satan, who was trying to prove a point to God, was causing all his suffering. God was watching. Because of Job’s steadfast faith, Satan lost. God took over and restored Job by twofold from what he had prior to Satan’s attacks. You need to read the book of Job.