If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 2 Cor 5:17
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These pages are designed to aid study or investigation for Christian discipleship through individual Bible study, Cell groups, Home groups, or meeting one to one. The questions could be used alone allowing each person to use their own Bible.
Suffering touches a deep place in our souls that will not be satisfied with simplistic answers. There is a spectrum of reasons for suffering. Each element of the range helps give a level of understanding. It is amazing how together there is a sense of consistency.
So, what is the Bible’s view on suffering?
Suffering has to come from somewhere. People ask why does God allow suffering? It all started when people decided that they wanted something that God had not wanted for them. The serpent is the devil or Satan.
Genesis 3: 1 The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day he asked the woman, "Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?"
2 "Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden," the woman replied.3 "It's only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, 'You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.'"
4 "You won't die!" the serpent replied to the woman.5 "God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil."
6 The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too.7 At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.
The passage continues to show the consequences of the man and woman eating the forbidden fruit.
Genesis 3 8 When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man* and his wife heard the LORD God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the LORD God among the trees.9 Then the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?" 10 He replied, "I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked." 11 "Who told you that you were naked?" the LORD God asked. "Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?"
12 The man replied, "It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it." 13 Then the LORD God asked the woman, "What have you done?" "The serpent deceived me," she replied. "That's why I ate it."
16 Then he said to the woman,
"I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth. And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.*"
17 And to the man he said,
"Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. 18 It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. 19 By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return."
22 Then the LORD God said, "Look, the human beings* have become like us, knowing both good and evil. What if they reach out, take fruit from the tree of life, and eat it? Then they will live forever!"23 So the LORD God banished them from the Garden of Eden, and he sent Adam out to cultivate the ground from which he had been made.
When Jesus returns there will be no more suffering.
Revelation 21: 3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, "Look, God's home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.*4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever."
Share Jesus’ suffering
Jesus suffered, and the suffering that comes to us gives us the opportunity to share in His life and consequently His glory.
Romans 8: 17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God's glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. 18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.
Many Christians make bold claims. Being faithful through suffering demonstrates that the words are real. It also tempers and enriches the ideas behind the words.
1 Peter 1: 4 we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.5 And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. 6 So be truly glad.* There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while.7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.
God’s power works best when it is clear that the work done is not from us but God. God’s power comes through us the most when we experience it the least.
2 Corinthians 1: 3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.5 For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. ... 8 We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters,* about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, ... But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.10 And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us.11 And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.
When we suffer it seems that God is not noticing. He is however listening for our cry for help. In this text God tells Moses He has heard the people of Israel.
Exodus 3: 7 Then the LORD told him, "I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering.8 So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land. It is a land flowing with milk and honey—the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live.9 Look! The cry of the people of Israel has reached me, and I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them.10 Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt."
It is one thing to understand why we suffer, but how do we live while suffering? Here we have the example of Jesus.
1 Peter 2: 20 But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you. 21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered* for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.
22 He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.* 23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.
One of the greatest contributions to suffering is our own complacency. God uses the sufferings of others as a warning to all who see that we cannot presume all will be well while we exclude God from our lives, or areas of our lives.
Luke 13: 1 About this time Jesus was informed that Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were offering sacrifices at the Temple.2 "Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?" Jesus asked. "Is that why they suffered?3 Not at all! And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God.4 And what about the eighteen people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them? Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem?5 No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too."
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