WHAT CHRISTIANS SHOULD KNOW (#WCSK) VOLUME ZERO PART IVB: WHY SUFFERING?

Picking up from last week…

How to deal with hardship

The Biblical model never asks Christians to deny, dismiss, or minimize misery. In fact, there is an entire book of the Bible (Lamentations) devoted to the expression of grief. As we discuss later, Job had his outpouring of grief and emotion memorialized for all time in the pages of Holy Scripture (e.g., Job 3:11, 19–20; 10:19). The Bible shows us that suffering is real and will[1] (not may) be a part of our Christian experience. The Bible may not explain suffering, but it certainly does affirm that when we receive the cup of salvation[2] from God, we also accept the contents of that cup. Accordingly, as the apostle tells us, “think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you” (I Peter 4:12, KJV). This certainly does not mean the Bible encourages glorifying or wallowing in melancholy. Rather, it simply acknowledges that the Christian walks on the via dolorosa, the road of sorrow that was first traversed by our Messiah, a Man of sorrows.[3][4] Indeed, God is sovereign, and within His sovereignty is prescribed suffering, the exact reasons and mechanisms of which God has not fully revealed to us. These things remain mysterious,[5] and as the Book of Job tells us, the title character never got a specific answer about why he suffered. In fact, God answers Job’s questions with enigmatic questions that don’t give specific answers but reveal who God is.[6] And, although God is sovereign, we never look at our neighbors and say, “It all happened because of God’s will” and then casually shrug our shoulders to the misfortune of others.

Rather, our hope is grounded in the future, where God will alleviate all suffering, and this recognition animates our pursuit to be agents of easing in a world ripe with torment.[7] God’s plan for suffering is more than restoration—it’s redemption whose eternal weight of glory far exceeds our present suffering. We thus look at those who are the most vulnerable and on the margins of society with a purposeful intent to make up for their suffering and the injustice they have experienced.

I will get into how to deal with suffering shortly. I want to pause briefly to detail how not to deal with suffering or to discuss secular coping mechanisms that have no validation in the Bible. Popular coping mechanisms often entail fleeing in times of hardship and result in a crisis of faith. It’s worth mentioning these strategies here because as is often the case, popular culture can infect sound Bible doctrine. Take note that the Bible repudiates any attempt to deal with suffering by substitution.

Do not deny suffering. Here, the way to …

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