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meaning of suffering in christianity

On the one hand, suffering is the consequence of the flawed nature of creation. Christianity is unique in that it faces suffering head on, speaks directly to it, and binds it into the process of salvation. Suffering is a tool God uses to get our attention and to accomplish His purposes in our lives. 2, 8, 17-18). Suffering definition, the state of a person or thing that suffers. God could have saved the world through a single word, but He didn’t. A short essay cannot adjudicate between the Existentialism and Christian account of the meaning of suffering. 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). 2 Macc. Bar. 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). Please enter your email address associated with your Salem All-Pass account, then click Continue. When a … Suffering is not in itself virtuous, nor is it a sign of holiness. Daniel 11:35 is another example of the suffering of the righteous having an expiatory effect. (p17) And... 'For suffering cannot be transformed and changed by the grace from outside, but from within. J. Carmignac, Revue de Qumran3 (1961): 365-86; J. L. Crenshaw, A Whirlpool of Torment; idem, Theodicy in the Old Testament; C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain; J. S. Pobee, Persecution and Martyrdom in the Theology of Paul; D. Sö le, Suffering; J. Christianity believes in a benevolent God who created the universe and all things in it. The genesis of creation was God's overflowing love, and God's plan for creation is rooted in divine goodness. Suffering as the Consequence of Sin. Some texts call this the kingdom of God (e.g., Pss. The nations of Moab, Edom, and Philistia are singled out for judgment because of their hostile foreign policy toward Judah ( Eze 25:8-17 ). Sol. The meaning of suffering is given us above all in Jesus’ suffering which is his love for us, for our redemption. Later, in the context of the destruction of the Jerusalem temple, the deuteronomistic principle that invasion by foreign powers is God's chastisement of Israel for its sins is reiterated (2 Apoc. Bar. (Luke 13:2). 1:5; 78:3-4; 79:2). 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. 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 ). 1. Why now? 50-51). Three types of justification are offered in the Old Testament for the suffering of the righteous: eschatological, remedial, and expiatory. This reality is a stark reminder that we have not reached the new heavens and new earth. He has kept you through pain; he has reshaped you more into his image. The church is meant to be a refuge for those suffering. In the intertestamental literature the three explanations for the suffering of the righteous found in the Old Testament also appear. A. Sanders, Suffering as Divine Discipline in the Old Testament and Post-Biblical Judaism. Paul, likewise, believes that the nation is temporarily rejected by God until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in ( Rom 11 ). In this vein, 1 Enoch 45:4-5 speaks about the transformation of the heaven and the earth, at which time the Elect One, the Messiah, will dwell on earth with the righteous. And what is the link between experiencing suffering and equipping for ministry? 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 … Christians still suffer as we wait for Jesus to return, but none of our suffering is random or without purpose. Achan, for instance, disobeys God, but the whole nation is defeated in battle as a consequence of his disobedience ( Joshua 7 ). 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. Suffering, or pain in a broad sense, may be an experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with the perception of harm or threat of harm in an individual. Suffering can draw our interests toward the true God. In these two verses, Paul lists several types of suffering — mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual. 10:1; T. Levi 18:12; T. Judah 25:3; T. Zebulon 9:8; T. Dan 5:10-11; 6:3; 1 Enoch 1; 10:13-16; 54:6; 55; 69:28-29; 90:24; Jub. This may necessitate, however, that God discipline the nation when disobedient to the Torah, so that at times it may appear that God favors the nations more than Israel. In our own suffering, Christ allows us to share in the deepest sign of his love. Sometimes, the application of the principle is delayed, so that the righteous suffer for a period of time before vindication. 2. HIRE verified writer $35.80 for a 2-page paper 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 ). Suffering happens in community. 3.632-51; 1 QH. 1. Or. 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. Suffering as the Consequence of the Flawed Nature of Creation. 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. Suffering is not in itself virtuous, nor is it a sign of holiness. 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 ). also Sir 2:4-5). Why now? 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. Only a deliberate and forced stubbornness can quench that urge. It is also not a means of gaining points with God, nor of subduing th… 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). also Psalm 94:12 ; Dan 11:35 ). What you are experiencing from God, you can give away in increasing measure to others. The Book of Judges, similarly, interprets Israel's suffering through foreign domination as stemming from national disobedience to the law ( 2:6-23 ). 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. Each of these are different ways that we can suffer, and when suffering comes, often several of these types of suffering are involved. 25-29; 70-71; 4 Ezra 5:1-13; 8:50; 9:1-6; 16:70-73). In the Daniel apocalypse, the suffering of those who are "wise" (11:35) is an eschatological necessity. 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. (Suffering and the Sovereignty of God, 166). 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. Jesus interprets his death as expiatory and vicarious. 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. Here are five important biblical truths about suffering every Christian should have ready: Suffering has many faces. 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 ). Suffering Has Many Faces. On the one hand, suffering is the consequence of the flawed nature of creation. the King James Version, "For ye suffer fools gladly (the Revised Version (British and American) "ye bear with the foolish gladly"), seeing ye yourselves are wise" (2 Corinthians 11:1,9). 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. The Book of Ecclesiastes also questions the causal relation between righteousness and prosperity. 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 ). Human suffering is thus redeemed. Jesus tells us, wear my yoke-for it fits perfectly-and let me teach you; for I am gentle and humble, and you shall find rest for your souls; for I … The fate of the nation as a corporate entity is bound up intricately with the moral decisions of its individual members. See more. The Cross is a great contradiction. When we share our sufferings with Christ we suffer for the Kingdom and grow in virtue and “complete…Christ’s … And neither does it mean that Scripture doesn’t tell us how to think about our suffering now. (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. Each of us knows firsthand what it means to suffer as a result of … “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. Suffering is a tool God uses to get our attention and to accomplish His purposes in our lives. God himself is gain. If we do not communicate that he is the goal and the ground of our joy in suffering, then the very meaning of our suffering will be lost. General Editor. The believer should not be puzzled at suffering, because the Bible plainly states that it is a necessary part of the Christian life. 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). Proud member Nonetheless, at the judgment of the dead, God will vindicate those who are martyred, raising them to everlasting life (Dan. The Books of Job and Ecclesiastes. In the Old Testament, nations fall under God's judgment for their disregard of God's will. Psalm 1, for example, compares the man whose delight is in the Torah of Yahweh to a tree planted by streams of water bearing fruit in its season; the wicked, on the other hand, are compared to chaff blown away by the wind. 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. The church is not meant to be a loosely bound association of functional Lone Rangers. The words and phrases in the Bible expressing this concept are too numerous to list. Suffering can come because of foolish choices. Cite this chapter as: Barreau H. (2001) The Meaning of Suffering in Buddhism and Christianity. The age/world to come for the righteous is to be an existence of blessedness, without suffering. 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. At other times, the correlation between righteousness and longevity/prosperity in this life breaks down altogether. 12:13-14 ). The Bible doesn’t whitewash our experience of suffering by saying that it’s all of one stripe. The Christian Meaning of Suffering. 16:12; 18:13-14; 22:27-23:3; Wis. 3:5; Pss. All Christians have or will suffer (John 16:33; Acts 14:22). Often there is a differentiation made between this age/world and the age/world to come; the latter follows the resurrection and judgment and is the domain of the righteous alone (4 Ezra; 2 Apoc. The suffering of the righteous also has a remedial function. 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. The New Jerusalem of no tears and no pain, of no mourning and no death, hasn’t arrived yet (Revelation 21:1, 4). Pope John Paul II used the Scriptures in Salvifici Doloris to enter into the Christian meaning of human suffering. 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. God disciplines the righteous individual, taking preventative and corrective measures in order to keep the heart of the righteous from turning away from him. Bahodesh 10:1-86). In so doing he dismisses the easy answers and constructs a much more nuanced, complex but satisfying approach. Bible Dictionaries - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Suffering, Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, Encyclopedias - International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Suffering, California - Do Not Sell My Personal Information. 10:1). The Book of James similarly identifies trials as a means of engendering holiness ( 1:2-3 ), as does 1 Peter 1:3-9. The apostle Paul wrote, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8–9). When we are hurting, the “God of … Most people experience suffering at some time in their life. The same can be true of a collective. The Maccabean crisis was interpreted as resulting from the sin of the nation; Antiochus's persecution was really God's discipline of an unruly people (cf. The notion that national calamity originates with national sin prevails in the intertestamental literature. "Think ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they have suffered these things?" In these two verses, Paul lists several types of suffering — mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual. Suffering is often categorized as physical or mental. Similarly, in 2 Peter 3:13 and Revelation 21:1, the Isaian concept of the new heaven and new earth finds expression. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”. 23 T. Mos. Why me? That sometimes the righteous suffer for no apparent reason is the thesis of the Book of Job. 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. 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. It is much easier to appreciate the glory of Jesus’ resurrection than his painful crucifixion. Bar. 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 ). But how? Declaring the power of salvific suffering, the Apostle Paul says: "In my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for … You are learning both the tenderness and the clarity necessary to help sanctify another person’s deepest distress. 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. Suffering is a privilege. But the Old Testament also gives evidence of the irregular working out of the principle of retributive justice. In: Tymieniecka AT., Agazzi E. (eds) Life Interpretation and the Sense of Illness within the Human Condition. Bibliography Information Copyright © 2021, Bible Study Tools. The period of time in which the temple is defiled and the righteous are oppressed is predetermined, established according to the divine timetable. 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 ). 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 ). 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. 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. Sir. 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. Jub. The words and phrases in the Bible expressing this concept are too numerous to list. Orr, James, M.A., D.D. When someone in our church is hurting, the church tends to that member’s wounds. On account of the disobedience of Eve and then Adam, a wretched legacy has been bequeathed to the human race. 8 ). 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. Christians affirm that somehow this suffering heals the rift between God and man. 1915. INTRODUCTION. The righteous are urged, therefore, to be patient in their suffering and to wait for the eschatological judgment and salvation of God, at which time they will receive the blessing due to them, whereas the wicked, who are often the oppressors of the righteous, will be punished and destroyed (cf. The church is also meant to be a refuge for those who are suffering. Don't waste time. For usage information, please read the Baker Book House Copyright Statement. Renike quotes author Rankin Wilbourne who … But God brings suffering in our lives for the sake of our eternal joy — yes, even glory. Individual Suffering. The individual righteous person is at the mercy of the larger historical designs of God. Collective Suffering. Israel's covenant at Sinai is a special historical manifestation of the principle of retributive justice. . 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. At other times, it is the direct judgment of God manifesting itself through such things as drought, disease, or foreign invasion. In the end God never explains to Job the point of his suffering (although the reader is aware of Satan's involvement); instead, he asks Job a series of rhetorical questions designed to make the pint that some things are beyond human comprehension. Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I. The people are placed conditionally under the Torah: obedience brings blessing, while disobedience brings destruction or exile (Deut. Paul also believes that God disciplines believers in order to bring about repentance ( 1 Cor 5:1-8 ; 2 Cor 11:17-33 ; 1 Tim 1:20 ). All rights reserved. These verses are like sandpaper on our modern sentiments about suffering. On the other hand, Lamentations places the blame for the destruction of Jerusalem squarely on the shoulders of the apostate nation. In this regard, the Book of Esther stands in contrast to Lamentations. Although the suffering servant seems not to have played a major role in shaping the conceptualities of the extant literature of the intertestamental period, the notion of vicarious suffering and death does crop up now and then, paralleling what is found in Daniel 11:35. (6) "To suffer death." The New Testament also assumes that creation is flawed as a result of the activity of Satan and allied spirits, who wreak havoc on human existence (e.g., Mark 9:14-27 ; = Luke 9:37-43 ). of All Christians suffer. The meaning is this: God is gain. When we are in a state of anguish that offers little respite, the natural inclination is to turn toward a higher source for help. Job suffers, yet he is righteous. The experience of physical pain and/or mental distress. Suffering in this world is a stone-cold reality in Christianity -- Jesus Christ Himself, God Incarnate, suffered betrayal, indignity, torture and a grueling death. As you resolve to grow and change this year, remember that good intentions without diligence will fail. The experience of physical pain and/or mental distress. It is God’s plan for preserving us and bringing us safely to glory. God is gain. 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. Suffering is the basic element that makes up the negative valence of affective phenomena.The opposite of suffering is pleasure or happiness.. 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 ). The three explanations for the suffering of the righteous individual found in the Old Testament eschatological, remedial, expiatory also occur in the New Testament. Either you have, you are, or you will — “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). 8:3-6; cf. The Bible even tells us why we suffer. 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). Suffering in the Christian life is not random or arbitrary, but our suffering is given greater meaning when we remember that Jesus also suffered. Isaiah 65:17 actually speaks of the creation of a new heaven and a new earth. He has infused suffering with divine meaning, not human meaninglessness. Sin as the misuse of human freedom has led humans into total opposition … An example of a favorite quote, 'Suffering must serve for conversion, that is, for the rebuilding of goodness in the subject, who can recognize the divine mercy in this call to repentance.' Job is to accept his suffering without questioning god's wisdom or justice. Whenever we suffer we experience evil and evil is a distortion of the good. Why me? 1 Peter 2:9 ). Individual sins also have intergenerational consequences. "If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss" (1 Corinthians 3:15; also Philippians 3:8). Bibliography. We have been given the privilege not only of trusting him but also of suffering for him. Suffering. A woman "had suffered many things of many physicians" (Mark 5:26). God cursed the ground, so that human beings can stay alive only through much toil; the pain of childbirth is greatly increased for all women ( Gen 3:16-19 ); death and all the suffering attendant upon dying have entered the world ( Gen 2:17 ). Cities are also threatened with judgment on account of their rejection of Jesus or his emissaries ( Matt 11:20-24 ; = Luke 10:13-15 ). 6-7; 1 Enoch 102:3-103:15; 104:6-8; 108:3; 2 Enoch 9:1; 50:1-6; 51:3-5; 65:6-11; 66:6; 4 Ezra 7:18; 2 Apoc. . Suffering forces us to turn from trust in our own resources to living by faith in God’s resources. (2) "To experience," "to go through,"' "to endure": "I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him" (Matthew 27:19). 1 Macc 1:64; 2 Macc 6:13-16; 7:18, 32-33, 37-38; Jub. 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 ). 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. There is a fourth interpretation of the suffering of the righteous individual that comes to expression in the New Testament. Each of these are different ways that we can suffer, and when suffering comes, often several of these types of suffering are involved. 23; 1 Enoch 100:1-3; 107; Sib. 9:6-10:1), and the Qumran community understood its own suffering as expiatory (1 QS. "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1:4 that God “comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”.

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