27: Foundational Frameworks Part 27 - Making Sense of Suffering

Foundational Truths: The Bible is God’s self-revelation.
God is the Eternal, Sovereign Creator; all that He creates is good.
Man is a responsible agent, held to a moral standard.
Sin originates within a person, separating us from God.
God declares one righteous by faith alone, apart from works.

Exodus 3:7-9. From what we know about God (that He is all-knowing, all-powerful, everywhere-present), v. 7 may bring objections to our minds. Questions surface that every person asks at some point in life:
-If God knew that suffering would come, why did He allow it?
-If God is all-powerful, why didn’t He stop it immediately?
-If God is in control, why did He ever allow Egypt to rise to power if they were going to be nothing but cruel oppressors?

We can all agree that on the surface, suffering seems senseless and we are appalled every time it crosses our path.

Why would God allow for the Israelites to suffer for any period of time? Was He teaching them?

What we are really looking for is a responsible party for such atrocities. We want to blame, and rightly so, because we have an inherent sense of injustice. This inherent sense of injustice also implies that we have an understanding, at least on a basic level, of what true justice looks like; something just as true for the pagan.

Not everyone is called to suffer or experience suffering. For those that are, suffering looks different for everyone. All suffering is in some way derived from the basic problem of sin in humanity.

Job suffered by the permission of God at the hands of Satan. The result led to the shaming of Satan before the seen and unseen world.

-Rom 5:3-5; Jas 1:2-4. Suffering develops a Christian’s character, maturing us to be “lacking in nothing.” The maturation gives us “hope,” meaning a confident expectation of future fulfillment!

-Phil 1:29; 2 Tim 3:12. The Truth of Jesus Christ being what it is causes a sin-filled and hostile world to retaliate, especially when we exemplify godliness. If they hated Jesus, they will surely hate us.

-1 Pet 1:6-9. Such suffering results in the praise and glory for Jesus Christ. Holding fast to the truth is noble, showing that we are not wasting our lives, but that we are “saving our souls/life.”

-1 Pet 3:13-17. Suffering brings about blessing. Proper conduct in the midst of trials actually testifies to the truth and puts our oppressors to shame. If we should suffer, we should suffer for Christ.

-1 Pet 4:19. Suffering gives us an opportunity to trust Christ more! We often feel like God does not know what He is doing when we are going through the ringer. However, He does… more than we are comfortable with admitting, and He is faithful to take care of His children.

-Matt 5:10-12; Rom 8:17; 2 Thess 1:3-5. Suffering with Christ in this life brings about great inheritance in the life to come!

In 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, Paul tells us that God comforts the afflicted for the purpose of those believers comforting others who have experienced the same. This is the body ministering to the body.

What are some points to take away from these verses?

Suffering is never an excuse to sin.

We may be disturbed with the idea that some Christians “suffer according to the will of God,” but for some believers, this is exactly what they have been called to (like Paul- Acts 9:15-16).

The affliction that we suffer will be paid back to our oppressors by the Lord Himself (2 Thess 1:6-10).

Suffering is only beneficial IF we endure through it.

This world is not our home, therefore we should not feel at home in it.