Thursday, 25 April 2013

Significant passages on suffering

To come to a right perspective on suffering one needs to understand 3 significant passages of Scripture. There may be more but at minimum there are 3 aspects it would do well to fully comprehend. The 3 passages are found in Genesis, Job, and the Gospels.
  1. Genesis 1-3 gives us the nature of the created world and the Fall of man.
  2. Job discusses the suffering of the righteous.
  3. The Gospels, especially the latter aspects of them, teaches us about redemption of suffering.

So the passages cover the:
  1. Reason suffering exists;
  2. Righteous suffering; and
  3. Redemption of suffering.
The 3 passages primarily address each of these, though they also give us insight into the other 2.

Genesis
The world was broken by man when he choose disobedience over life. The world created perfect is now flawed as a result of Adam's sin. The choice to eat what they were forbidden to brought sin, suffering and death into this world. The entire universe suffered as a result of man's disobedience. All suffering came after this event and is caused by it. It is unlikely people can overestimate how great was our fall from grace. It is imperative to grasp that no sadness, pain or death existed in the world before the Fall; and that all suffering resulted from it.

Job
While the suffering of the wicked may appear consistent with justice, the suffering of the righteous seems unfair. And while all men are sinners, including Job, suffering is frequently not the result of personal sin. The innocent frequently suffer because of others. This strikes us as extremely unjust. The story of Job addresses this and teaches us that, contrary Job's friend's advice, the righteous do suffer. There is much to learn from Job including that suffering can do good. Not that suffering is good, rather it can produce good; God brings good out of evil, sometimes greater good than would have been had the evil not occurred, but woe to him who brings about evil (Mar 9:42; Rom 6:1-2).

Gospels
Jesus is the quintessential example of the righteous sufferer. The 3 aspects mentioned above occur in these and other passages. However we also learn about God's redemption of suffering. The death and resurrection of Jesus an enormous good out of such a horrendous evil. And God used it to redeem us. The death and resurrection work against the very core of suffering and removes it. It allows for God to completely do away with suffering. Sin, suffering, evil, sadness, pain and death itself are on their way out and will be no more.

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