Let me begin by saying that I felt like I knew how to handle my problems as well as others by giving them the simple explanation of sin = pain and suffering and that is why we have to deal with it. Needless to say, I soon realized that that is not an explanation that comforts and helps those who are in distress.
My personal experiences as well as others have caused me to search for answers with the intention of solidifying my faith, comforting others, and learning how to correctly respond to trials in life. If any of these relate to you, I hope that you will be blessed by this post.
To clarify, suffering may be felt by all, but for all it doesn’t feel the same.
There are 4 different types of suffering maybe even more, did you know that? There is a suffering that stems from the consequences of our own sin like a child who receives a spanking because they disobeyed their parents. The spanking acts as both a punishment as well as a guide to help the child make different and wiser decisions. (Hebrews 12:6-7)
There’s suffering from persecution that ranges from bullying in middle school to trying to kill off entire races because of their beliefs. As Christians we know Jesus didn’t beat around the bush about whether or not we would be persecuted. He said, “Pick up your cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24) and my personal favorite, “you will be hated by all men for my name’s sake” (Matt. 10:22). Persecution of all kinds comes with the territory of being a Christ follower; therefore, be prepared and know that God rejoices at His children who stand firm in the face of hatred and belittlement.
Another type comes in the form of grief and unfortunately it is one that we all know too well. Grieving is never easy no matter what the cause. Fortunately, through Christ we are never completely separated from our loved ones in death, but we have hope we will see them again. As for the grieving process, we know even Jesus wept and mourned for the death of his friend Lazarus (John 11:35). Remember, Jesus feels your pain and will comfort you (John 14:18).
Finally there is suffering that comes from no fault of our own, but from someone else’s sin such as getting hit by a drunk driver or children that are born into drug addiction and grow after being sexually molested. This form often stumps people and as a result they question God’s almighty power and purpose in their life. Too many times I hear, why does God allow sin? Why would He let a child get abused? What kind of God lets innocent people suffer?
From what the Lord has been teaching me, the answer that I can give is that Jesus was the ultimate example of someone innocent who had to suffer. God had to say no to His only Son when asked if “this cup should pass over me” (Matt. 26:39). But Jesus had the final word. He forgave His enemies and though He died, He was made alive and whole again! If Jesus can forgive the people who put nails in His hands, shouldn’t we be able to forgive those who left “scars” on us as well? (Matt. 6:15)
This is only the beginning my friends, I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface! Keep on the look out for a follow up post entitled “Now You Know, Now What?” which will demonstrate how we should approach our suffering and how to respond when we are suddenly thrown through fiery trials. Meanwhile take the time to read the biblical passages strewn throughout this message and discover what God may be teaching you through His word.
Thank you for reading and God bless!