Among humanity's oldest mysteries are the origin and cause of suffering. We need only look around us to know that the world is filled with suffering. No creature on earth has not experienced some form of pain and suffering. It is the nature of this world. It hasn't always been so. God tells us that He made the world perfect, and we know that in those early days there was no sin, no suffering, no death, decay or disease.
Suffering came about after Adam and Eve gave into temptation1. With their act of rebellion against God, sin and suffering entered the world and now all creation is feeling its effects2.
Although sin is the root of most suffering, i.e. the result of personal sin, what about those who suffer hardship despite having done absolutely nothing wrong?
People often point to the trials of Job, that Old Testament patriarch who went from wealthy landowner and happy parent, to a bewildered, broken, childless and penniless man in only a short amount of time3. God said that Job was blameless and lived an upright life4, yet the man suffered.
That man's suffering came about because God pointed out how upright and righteous Job was when He called the angels to heaven to talk with them5. When God talked to the devil about Job's righteousness, the enemy threw a fit, belittled Job's righteousness6 and was given permission to attack Job, first through loss of material possessions and his children7, and when that didn't work, the devil was given permission to attack Job's body directly8.
The only real fault Job had was in thinking that he was a good man in his own right, that doing good would bring about rewards. When he sought to vindicate himself before God9, the Creator corrected him10.
Job suffered because God intended to teach us and the devil a lesson: that He is in control of all creation and always worthy of praise10.
But people since that time have looked at Job's problems and wondered how that man's hardship could be applied to their own lives. What about others who haven't had a chance to live a full life? Why do they suffer? What about the truly innocent? The infants, the extremely mentally disabled? Why do they suffer?
Well, the answer can be found in the life of one Man, indeed He is the most important Man of all. Jesus Christ never sinned11. He is God. Yet, He suffered every day throughout His earthly life and indeed He suffered since sin came upon the human race12.
How so? Because God hates sin13. Because God created a gentle and happy world for humans and animals to live in. Every bit of sorrow and misery that humanity and animals experience indeed hurts God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit14.
We all hurt God. The devil hurts God by attacking the Lord's creation. More directly to how we all hurt God: when Jesus was spat upon, flogged, stabbed and crucified he was hurt by each and every one of us15,16,17. So, for any who doubt that anything in creation can hurt God, I hope this has dispelled that misconception.
The wonderful thing is that Jesus triumphed over suffering and death18. His sacrifice on the cross means that His children will have eternal life19. Any man, woman and child who accepts Jesus as their Lord and Savior will have eternal life20. That's His promise to us.
But it doesn't come instantly. By that I mean, becoming Christian doesn't make the earthly problems go away. Often times, Christians suffer even greater problems21.
That's what makes many people scratch their heads. It seems counter-intuitive - follow God and you have pain, go your own way and things seem to be okay.
Note how I said "seem". Those who think they're in total control secretly know that most things in this life are still beyond their ability to regulate. Those folks have two options: accept that they need God's help or they can continue their own way and ultimately lose their very soul22.
But that doesn't seem to address the reality of Christian suffering.
Jesus told us that in this world we shall suffer trials23. In response many of us are quick to ask "why?". Jesus also told us that because He suffered (and suffers) hatred, all of us who follow Him will also suffer it24.
It's often said that Christians are to imitate Christ25, to obey and love Him and to love all humans as brothers and sisters26.
People may not realize that Christians also share something else with Jesus Christ: an inheritance27. Yes, an eternal treasure waiting in heaven28. Christians - yes, the adopted children of God - are joint heirs with Jesus Christ29. This means that to be like Christ is to have the same rewards as our first Brother.
A long time ago a powerful angel named Lucifer got the idea in his head that he could be like God in power, splendor and glory30. The instant that thought entered Lucifer's mind, he went from being a good angel to the leader of the fallen angels.
Lucifer, also known as the dragon and Satan, the enemy of God and the adversary of man is forever finished31. He can never be redeemed. In fact, when God told Adam and Eve they had to leave Eden, he comforted the husband and wife by telling them that the devil was going to be defeated by Jesus Christ32. That is why Jesus came to live among us, to remove sin, give us a way home and to defeat the devil. He has done that. The devil has lost.
But even though the devil has been defeated, God hasn't locked him up yet. That won't come until God's appointed time31. What we need to know about how this relates to Christian suffering is this: Satan and his demons have always been jealous of God30. Now that God has countless millions and billions of adopted sons and daughters - the Christians - who shall be joint heirs with Jesus Christ, the devil's hatred against those adopted children is going to be felt.
God allows suffering as an expression of love33. It's hard to accept, I know. But the suffering that comes about when you have done absolutely nothing wrong, is the result of God allowing the devil to attack you because you are a son or daughter of God34. That's the heart and essence of what it means to be like God. It means to suffer like God. To suffer like Christ.
The very truth that "to be like God" means enduring hardship and suffering is beyond the devil's comprehension. The enemy has deceived the world into thinking that a loving God would always protect His loved ones from all harm. Therefore, the devil and his followers can never accept or understand the perfect suffering of Jesus Christ. That is why they mock - and attack - those who endure pain for the sake of God.
That's not to say that we should run headlong into suffering. Jesus did tell his disciples to spread out when calamity strikes35. So suffering just to suffer is not recommended.
But when you suffer for things you have not done, when you are totally blameless, remember that it is God suffering, too. Because you belong to God and God loves you, you will suffer.
Take comfort in knowing that it won't last forever. Because God lives now and always and the Christian lives in God as part of God, then the Christian will live for eternity36. And at GOD's appointed time, the devil will be imprisoned forever and ever and will never again harm or plague creation31.
I thank God for giving me this personal perspective on Christian suffering. And I thank Him for blessing me to share it with you.
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1. Genesis 3:1-2
2. Romans 8:22
3. Job 1:13-22
4. Job 1:8
5. Job 1:5
6. Job 1:9-11
7. Job 1:12-19
8. Job 2:1-6
9. Job 13:3
10. Job 38:1-41
11. 2 Corinthians 5:21
12. Isaiah 53:3
13. Romans 6:23
14. Matthew 10:29
15. John 19:1
16. John 19:34
17. Matthew 26:67
18. 1 Corinthians 15:55-57
19. John 3:16
20. John 3:36
21. 1 Peter 4:16
22. Mark 8:36
23. John 16:33
24. John 15:18
25. 1 Corinthians 11:1
26. John 13:34-35
27. Ephesians 1:11-17
28. Matthew 6:20
29. Romans 8:17
30. Isaiah 14:12-15
31. Revelations 20:10
32. Genesis 3:15
33. Hebrews 12:6
34. 1 Peter 4:12-19
35. Matthew 24: 16-22
36. John 11:26
"A Personal Perspective on Why Christians Suffer Trials" copyright © 2016 Living Fit, Healthy and Happy(SM). All Rights Reserved.