8:17). ... and especially to the question of how the suffering and death of Christ is related to the winning of the world's redemption. YHVH is Lord of lords and King of kings whose word can never fail (Deut. Create. Whence then is evil?" But Job silences these three by showing that is no correlation in this world between righteousness and prosperity or between wickedness and suffering. The problem of suffering leads inevitably to questions about the nature of good and evil and ulti­ mately to original sin.8In Aquinas's teaching on evil and original sin one can recognize the patterned roots of Schillebeeckx's anthropology. Then He is malevolent. Paul’s imprisonment (chained daily to Roman soldiers in his own house) resulted in the spread of the gospel within the elite imperial praetorian guard. Each chapter has several discussion questions that make the book useful for small study groups, adult Bible fellowships, and more. God is punishing Job. Suffering is merely an illusion in this view. 40 Ron Lee Davis with James Lee Denney, Gold in the Making, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, 1983, p. 17-18. Additionally, Yeshua knew the truth value of "counterfactual conditionals" (Matt. In the process of producing Christian character and enhancing our testimony to others, suffering often opens up doors for ministry we could never have imagined. 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). 1 Pet. God "purges" the vine branches; he cuts back and reshapes our growth and direction (John 15:1-8). It is true, however, that rarely does suffering not reveal areas of need, weaknesses, and wrong attitudes that need to be removed like dross in the gold refining process (cf. 1:6-7). This world of shadows and decay is not our true home, and suffering is God's way of calling us away from the allure of its illusions. Suffering is somewhat mysterious. (2) We suffer because of our own foolishness. All suffering is not, for instance, a product of our own foolishness, self-induced misery, or sin. The "free will defense of God" is popular because it permits us to feel outrage over suffering and evil without blaming God. The question we must each face is not, “if” we are going to have trials in life, but how will we respond to them. (1) We suffer because we live in a fallen world where sin reigns in the hearts of men. 6). Of course, all of these do n… It is good for us to know love; and best for us to know the love of the best object, God. 1:6--“distressed” is lupeo meaning “to cause pain, sorrow, grief”). Get used to it! The theodicy question – the question about evil, suffering and guilt in God’s good creation – cannot avoid the question of God itself. 12:6). Compare the blessings of affliction as seen in the testimony of the Psalmist in Ps. Suffering requires the right response if it is to be successful in accomplishing God’s purposes. Search our database or browse our topically indexed answers to real questions people have sent us. If He who in Himself can lack nothing chooses to need us, it is because we need to be needed. Like the rich man who asked Yeshua how to inherit eternal life (Mark 10:17-22), God does not force us to follow him or to accept his love, though there are real consequences for those who willingly choose to disregard moral and spiritual reality. The book is well documented and offers a Scripture index. The proper response is not to blame God but rather to join Him in the battle of the ages against evil.The traditional "problem of evil" may be stated that the three sentences: 1) God is all good; 2) God is all powerful; and 3) evil exists, are incompatible, if not logically, then at least existentially. 1 Thessalonians 3:3 so that no man may be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this. We are disciplined by God to bear a greater good (Heb. To experience the love of God in a true, and not an illusory form, is therefore to experience it as our surrender to His demand, our conformity to His desire: to experience it in the opposite way is, as it were, a solecism against the grammar of being." To manifest the character of Christ in the midst of suffering as a testimony to win others to Christ (2 Cor. It is one you will want to ponder and pray through, not only for your own life but also for those to and with whom you will give pastoral care. There is no personal higher power. It provides opportunities to reveal our credentials as ambassadors of Christ (1 Kings. Is there a God? 12:5f; 1 Pet. Then He is impotent. What is suffering? In the design of God, it is also something to make us think. If we are going to endure suffering and the trials of life, however, we must also understand and believe in the other purposes and reasons for suffering as they are related to the chief purpose. God is perfect in all his ways (Deut. (1) We suffer as a testimony, as a witness (2 Tim 2:8-10; 2 Cor. What is God doing? In other words, if God is all good he would want to eliminate evil, and if God is all powerful he is able to eliminate evil, and yet evil exists, so we are left with the choice of accepting any two of these statements at the expense of the third. 11:1-12:24); yet, by God’s grace, it was through David and Bathsheba that the baby Jesus was eventually born into this … “Trials” in James 1:2 is the Greek peirasmos and refers to that which examines, tests, and proves the character or integrity of something. Some non-believers adopt a docetic view of suffering, which denies the reality of pain altogether. Ryan presents. Wherever there is suffering, there is a battle — a battle for your soul. “Testing” in this same verse is dokimion which has a similar idea. INTERNATIONAL THEOLOGICAL COMMISSION. No matter the reason, even if it is not God’s discipline for blatant carnality, it is a purifier for none of us will ever be perfect in this life (Phil. Suffering teaches us empathy, compassion, and humility, and God comforts us in our afflictions so that we can comfort others with the comfort we have been given by God (2 Cor. "How long, O LORD? 40:28; Psalm 145:3; Rom. 1:6-7 where the same Greek words are used along with the verb dokimazo which means, “put to the test,” “prove by testing as with gold.”. Fr. Because our great God is in control of our lives and future, he must ordain suffering for us with only benevolent and healing intent.On the other hand, the imperative language of Scripture implies that we have a real duty and responsibility to do truth, to love others, to receive the light, to trust in God, and so on. 1:3-5). (3) We sometimes suffer because it is God’s discipline. If so, what is God like? In order to handle suffering with inner joy and tranquillity, we must be able to look ahead to God’s purposes and reasons for suffering. In a discussion between scholars the issue of a world torn by suffering is often described as an insoluble trilemma. Nature is all there is: We can detect causes and consequences. (4) We may suffer persecution because of our faith--especially when we take a stand on biblical issues, i.e., suffering for righteousness sake (2 Tim. Will you forget me forever?How long will you hide your face from me?" It refers to a test designed to prove or approve. They allow the process to work and allow us to experience inner peace and joy in the midst of the trials. (Psalm 13:1)Download Study Card. “We all want the product, character; but we don’t want the process, suffering.”41 Because of our make up as human beings, we can’t have one without the other. Why me? Kids will ask, “Why didn’t God prevent that from happening?” “That’s just how it had to be.” Stuff happens. “It may be cancer or a sore throat. Search. 1.29). That’s why they are called “trials” and “testings.” Even when we understand the purposes and principles of suffering, and we know the promises of God’s love and concern given in the Word of God for handling suffering, dealing with the trials of life is never easy because suffering hurts. 2:14-16). Related Topics: Suffering, Trials, Persecution, Character Study, J. Hampton Keathley III, Th.M. 12:6). When possible, suffering is to be avoided. Christ avoided suffering unless it meant acting in disobedience to the Father’s will. The best known presentation is attributed to the Greek philosopher Epicurus by David Hume, who was responsible for popularizing it. Others say that God does not know the future because reality is a process, and not a set of facts, and God simply leaves room for personal choices that are not predetermined to occur. 17:8f). 12:9, 10; John 9:3). To glorify God before the angelic world (Job 1-2; 1 Pet. Philippians 1:12-14 with 4:5-9). 12:7). ), Determine Solutions (How does God want me to handle this?). What is God doing? The results God seeks to accomplish with the trials of life requires time and thus also, endurance. Suffering prepares us for more glory. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect (mature) and complete, lacking in nothing” (Jam. 2. There are some other attempts to put suffering "outside" of God's plan that might be mentioned here. When believers handle suffering joyfully and with stability, it becomes a marvelous testimony to the power and life of Christ that we claim and name. Helpful answers to such questions are not, alas, as common as we might think. 11:24-32; 12:7-10; Eph. It is a tool God uses to get our attention and to accomplish His purposes in our lives in a way that would never occur without the trial or irritation. If you can't find what you need, submit a new question and we'll put together an answer just for you. (See reasons for suffering given below.). When you encounter God as the lover of your soul, you begin to apprehend the truth that "love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude; it does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth" (1 Cor. Simply stated, suffering is anything which hurts or irritates. There is just blind fate. Suffering came into the world at the same time as sin: Through Adam and Eve, and through their sin, pain, suffering, and death were brought into God's good and perfect creation. We reap what we sow (Gal. 5. ... wrote for those suffering to show it was the same as jesus suffering. Compare 1 Pet. Blind fate: Che sera sera; what will be will be. I encourage you to read Carson’s response in full. (4) We may suffer persecution because of our faith--especially when we take a stand on biblical issues, i.e., suffering for righteousness sake (2 Tim. - The Problem of Pain, C.S. We will give attention to both the spirituality for a theology of suffering and to the methods for framing a theology of suffering. 11:21-23), so it is simply incorrect to suppose that God cannot foresee future possibilities as well as actualities. It is never easy. Indeed, far from being a sign of God's abandonment, suffering is transformed to be a means of God's care for us. Your answer will depend on what they believe or think about the world. Note that Paul links our present suffering (πάθος, pathos) with a divinely imparted comfort (παράκλησις, "paraklesis"), which he regards as a state of blessedness. This is one of those big questions which have plagued humanity for centuries. Suffering is hard. 11:33). (3) We sometimes suffer because it is God’s discipline. Most times, suffering is a result of sin in a more general sense. Ryan's writings on Aquinas here come with a particular point of view in mind. In addition to human physical suffering, there is animal suffering, animal suffering brought about by human cruelty – a point eloquently (and perhaps, surprisingly) made in C. S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain. God invites us to come to His side for comfort so that we might offer his comfort to a lost and pain-riddled world.In this view, suffering is "inside" God's plan as a means of ultimately healing us. (3) We suffer to keep down pride (2 Cor. Some people regard life in this world as a cosmic battlefield and blame the devil for all the suffering and evil we experience. 4:16). In August of 2001 he was diagnosed with lung cancer and on August 29th, 2002 he went home to be with the Lord. In this, it is designed to build our trust in the Almighty. “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son He receives.” (Heb. The problem of evil is the question of how to reconcile the existence of evil and suffering with an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and omniscient God. 6:7-9). Lewis; "Walking with God through Pain and Suffering," by Timothy Keller; "God, Freedom, and Evil" by Alvin Plantiga; "Pathways in Theodicy: An Introduction to the Problem of Evil" by Mark Scott; "The Many Faces of Evil" by John Feinberg; and "Philosophy of Religion" by C.S. (* Indicates a required field.) This also may have a variety of answers for different types of suffering such as depression, labor pains, cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, etc. His book, God and the Mystery of Human Suffering , is a theological meditation across history on the topic of human suffering. 4:35,9). Let’s start with sudden, unexpected deaths, such as in a car accident. 1 Peter 4:19 Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right. And there is, I think, in a theology of suffering the reality that in the universe there will always be suffering. . 1:4). And that act is for our sakes. 3:13-17). What a find. All questions and answers are taken from The Theology Program courses. 10:17; Dan. For we are only creatures: our role must always be that of patient to agent, female to male, mirror to light, echo to voice. “To this [suffering] your were called...” (1 Pet. For once, English theology can claim to have pioneered a major theological development: from about 1890 onwards, a steady stream of English theologians, whose theological approaches differ considerably in other respects, have agreed in advocating, with more or less emphasis, a doctrine of divine suffering. His promises are secure because God is in control, and God's Name YHVH (יהוה) means that he is the Faithful One who reigns over all states of being and time, in every realm of existence. It causes us to turn from our resources to His resources. The Greek text reads, ὁ παρακαλῶν ἡμᾶς ἐπὶ πάσῃ τῇ θλίψει ἡμῶν, and might be better rendered as, "The one calling to us [to His side] in all our tribulations" (2 Cor. It may be a rumor that is circulating in your office or your church, damaging your reputation, bringing you grief and anxiety.”40 It can be anything that ranges from something as small and irritating as the bite of a mosquito or the nagging of a gnat to the charge of an elephant or having to face a lion in the lions’ den as with Daniel (Dan. The appearance of reckless animal cruelty poses questions for humanity to be sure; but it also, questions the goodness of God. We believe in a day of judgment, and afterwards the just punishment of sinners in hell forever. 1:5). 3:12-14). .” (Rom. We may know some of the theological reasons for suffering from Scripture, yet when it hits, there is still a certain mystery. Suffering provides key opportunities to manifest and magnify the power of God through His servants in order to verify and confirm the messenger and his message. Of course, all of these do not apply at the same time. Suffering was not part of the world created by God and declared by him to be good. Answer: The “theology of hope” is a theological perspective. Ask a Question. Theology: Disability, disease, and suffering all have implications for our theology and challenge the traditional images of God. Welcome to Reformed Answers! "Marcel Proust once said, "To wisdom and goodness we make only promises; pain we obey," which I interpret to mean that suffering can teach us and help us develop into mature people. Also see "Musings about Suffering," "Paradox and Presence," "The Devil's Logic," "A Dangerous Schooling," and "The Power of Hope," on the Hebrew for Christians web site.Addendum:  Please note I am not pretending to have "the answer" as to why we suffer presented here, but I simply wanted to provoke us to think a bit more about this vital subject. Is He both able and willing? I snuck ahead and read the chapter on Thomas Aquinas' part of the theological conversation on suffering that Fr. 5:3-4). Suffering at the hands of people (persecution, violent treatments) is used of God to “fill up the measure of their sins.” It shows the evil character of those who persecute others and the justice of God’s judgment when it falls. 3:14-17). This requires faith in the eternal verities of God. Surely He is our Good Shepherd who leads us through the world and orders all things to work together for our good (Rom. God’s word clearly shows that suffering is a normal part of the Christian life, especially suffering for Christ. “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for Him” (Phil. Even the wickedness of men and the suffering they cause is used by God to display His grace and love. As a process, it takes time. Suffering is not in itself virtuous, nor is it a sign of holiness. 1:3-4). As C.S. It is safe to say that both skeptic and believer alike share one opinion in common: The question of pain and suffering provides the greatest challenge to belief in God. Suffering provides opportunity for God’s glory, our transformation, testimony, and ministry, etc. Nevertheless we can make a distinction between evil and suffering, and though we agree that God does not will us evil, he may indeed will that we suffer, if that suffering "upbuilds the soul" or transforms our character to reveal the truth of Christ. Hampton wrote many articles for the Biblical Studies Foundation and on... More, Happy New Year: Past, Present, and Future Perspectives, 4. It should be clear that these other approaches are contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture, since God is the God of Truth (אֵל אֱמֶת) who indeed knows the beginning from the end, and indeed God's understanding and power are infinite (Psalm 147:5; Isa. There are a few related questions that often arise. Suffering is designed to cause us to walk by God’s ability, power and provision rather than by our own (2 Cor. The Search OF the Savior: Why Jesus Came, Part 2 (Gal. (8) We suffer to broaden our ministries (cf. We reap what we sow (Gal. It is also not a means of gaining points with God, nor of subduing the flesh (as in asceticism). Trials simply give us the capacity to cooperate with the process (Jam. 13:12). The tough question today is: why does a loving God allow innocent suffering? vs. 59), Determine Causes if we can (Is it because of something I have done? King David had an adulterous affair with Bathsheba and murdered her husband Uriah and the Lord caused David to suffer for his sin (2 Sam. Perhaps the most common reason kids begin to ask questions about evil and suffering is that they experience the death of a friend or loved one. Professors, pastors and theologians are here to help. 3:12). Suffering is that which proves one’s character and integrity along with both the object and quality of one’s faith. 1:19f). Non-Christians have offered several answers to this question, and it is helpful to examine some of them since these replies can influence us. 6:7-9). 13:4-6). Some other books include: "Wandering in Darkness" by Eleaonore Stump; "Suffering and the Courage of God" by Robert Morris; "The Problem of Pain" by C.S. Therefore we can say, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort (אלהֵי כָּל־נֶחָמָה), who 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" (2 Cor. And that’s all. (Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion). Why now? Question: "What is hope theology / theology of hope?" Has Christian theology avoided asking questions about suffering that appears to come from God? Hebrew for ChristiansCopyright © John J. ParsonsAll rights reserved. Why now? Before and behind all the relations of God to man, as we now learn them from Christianity, yawns the abyss of a Divine act of pure giving—the election of man, from nonentity, to be the beloved of God, and therefore (in some sense) the needed and desired of God, who but for that act needs and desires nothing, since He eternally has, and is, all goodness. God is Eternal and therefore he is the Possessor of Eternal Life, Truth, Being, and so on. 17:17-24; John 11:1-45). 4. Is God really in control?In history, there have been perhaps six main ways of “answering” these questions (and none of them is the Bible’s answer!). 4:8-12; 1 Pet. Job's three friends had taken the position that the severity of Job's suffering must be the sign of some grievous sin in his life. 4:12-13; 1 Pet. The academic question of how to reconcile faith in God with the prevalence of suffering is very different than the life of faith itself, where we trust God's heart, even if we cannot understand why things happen the way they do. We only become a person, a self, in relationship with eternity, and suffering turns the soul's gaze away from the fleeting to the truth that unifies and heals us. 3:12). 12:7-11); we learn to endure trials for the sake of knowing and sharing the miracle of God's comforting love. “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son He receives.” (Heb. 1:2-4). Start studying Theology Interview questions. Log in Sign up. 4:4-7), 3. To submit a question about the Bible, Christian theology, or Church History, complete and submit the following form. A question we should ask: Am I taking care of my body–which was bought at a price–by taking medication or by not taking it? (2) We suffer because of our own foolishness. "Some of the most penetrating and intriguing theological questions are the ones asked not by professional theologians but by sincere students and laypersons. Questions Everyone Asks, we get some real-truth answers to questions of suffering `` ''. 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