Table of Contents
Suffering and Sin
Suffering is the result of the entry of sin into the world (Genesis 3). “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Sin separates the sinner from God the source of life (Isaiah 59:2). Prior to sin, their was no suffering for God created the world perfect (Genesis 1). In terms of personal suffering, sin can be the natural result of transgression. The Bible teaches, “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). It is a natural law that things duplicate after their kind (Genesis 1:12). A man who sows figs cannot expect a grape crop. In the same manner, a man that sows evil will also reap evil.
The devil is the originator of sin and all its results. Yet, he leads men to look upon sickness and death as coming from God. Due to this fallacy, people view the heavenly Father as unloving and a harsh executor of justice. The apostle James explained this truth when he wrote, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:13-15). While the evil angels may tempt man to sin, their temptations would have no effect were there not a desire in people to yield to it.
God does not work a supernatural act to protect people from suffering the penalties of their breaking His laws. If people were safeguarded from the terrible results of their sin, they would become greatly encouraged in their wickedness. The truth is that sin brings suffering and death. God warns His children so that they will not suffer. He lovingly urges church leaders, “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear” (1 Timothy 5:20) and not suffer.
The Divine Sufferer
The Most one that truly suffered because of man’s sin is the Heavenly Father. Man sinned but God paid the penalty. For the Creator of the Universe offered His innocent Son to pay the penalty of man’s sin. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Through this infinite gift, it becomes possible for all that accept God’s love to be “called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1). “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). The possession of everlasting life is conditional upon God’s abiding in the heart by faith and walking in His path by grace.
Suffering Overruled For Divine Purposes
In the ancient days, there was a misconception that suffering is always the result of a person’s sin or his parents (John 9:2). People judged the degree of a person’s guilt by the degree of their suffering. But the Bible teaches that the rightouss can also get afflicted (Luke 13:16; Acts 10:38; 1 Corinthians 5:5). This is seen clearly in the story of Job.
The good new is that although suffering is imposed by Satan, it is overruled by God for purposes of mercy. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). For the believer, pain is often for the glory of God (John 11:4). These divine interventions are a greater blessing than the momentary trials one may endure. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
The afflicted ones may thus find relief in the thought that though a “messenger of Satan” may afflict them (2 Corinthians 12:7), God overrules for merciful purposes. He will make the trials and afflictions of this life to work for the good on their behalf (Romans 8:28). If the Lord permits suffering to come upon His people, it is not to crush them but to refine and elevate them (verse 17). For the trials of life help the believers focus their attention on heavenly realities.
This has been the experience of God’s children through the ages, and at the end of their lives they have been able to know and proclaim that God worked all things for their good (Psalms 119:67, 71; Hebrews 12:11). At the end of his life, Joseph was able to declare to his brothers, “Ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good” (Genesis 50:20).
In His service,