Hey everyone and welcome back to Serenity in The Spirit and Part Two of the ‘Cast Your Cares’ series.
In part 1 we touched on suffering and how to approach our issues and problems. This is valuable as we know that in life we are guaranteed to suffer or face problems and challenges at some point. However, I feel it is also important to analyse suffering from the root. Why do we suffer? What purpose does it serve? And even though it is sometimes beyond our control how do we minimise some of the consequences of suffering? Having an understanding of why we suffer can positively impact our attitude towards it.
When it comes to God, often the question ‘why does suffering exist?’ is raised (even by me and others who would consider themselves to be Christian). ‘If there’s a God (there is :P), why does He allow us to go through troubles?’ I will be going through 4 main reasons why I believe there is suffering in the world/purposes of suffering. This list is not exhaustive and I would love to hear other people’s thoughts on this topic (even if it is contrary to religious beliefs and Christianity).
*The purpose of this post is to list reasons/purposes, ‘Cast Your Cares – Part Three’ will explore how to prevent and manage suffering.
Adam and Eve/The fall: “Surely I was sinful at birth…” – psalm 51:5
Many of us know the story of Adam, Eve, the serpent and the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3). For those that don’t, in a nutshell: God created the first humans, Adam and Eve and they were living in the Garden of Eden. God said they could eat anything they wanted from the garden apart from fruit off one particular tree. A serpent told Eve that if she ate off of the forbidden tree she would become like God and have knowledge of good and evil so she ate the fruit as did Adam. In Christianity this is known as ‘The Fall’ and because it happened Adam, Eve, their children, their children’s children etc. (you and I) face the consequences of sin (suffering). The Bible says we face the consequences of our parents sin (Exodus 34:7). Often, this can look like us making similar, poor decisions to our parents or enduring similar issues during our lives. This seems unfair, why should we pay for our parents mistakes? Fortunately, God does not leave it at that. We are able to break free from the chains of our parents’ sin through prayer and living for Jesus.
Free will: “'I have the right to do anything,' you say—but not everything is beneficial. 'I have the right to do anything'—but not everything is constructive” – 1 Corinthians 10:23
Sometimes, we suffer as the result of our actions or the actions of those around us. When God created us, He gave us free will. This is because He wanted us to choose to have a relationship with Him, He wanted us to choose to love Him (wouldn’t be much of a relationship if we were forced into it, would it?). However, this means that whilst we can choose to love Him, we can also choose to love the world/our flesh (sinful, unholy desires). Choosing sin has the ultimate consequence of death [hell] (Romans 6:23) which is why we need to accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour to go to Heaven. Free will is also the reason why many innocent people suffer. God gave free will to everybody which means everybody has the capability of causing suffering for someone else (as well as having the capability of loving someone else).
To recognise our need for God/His power: “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.” – John 12:46
As mentioned in Part One, sometimes when we are going through hardship, a situation may get worse before it gets better. This can really test the trust a Christian has in God but God can use suffering to help us remember how much we need Him. It is important to note, God does not cause suffering so that we can rely on Him but going through struggles can remind us of our need for Him. Once we realise/remember that He has all the plans and the answers and once He brings us through, we are more likely to have more faith in Him in the future.
Testimony: “…God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.
Once the Lord has healed us, provided a way out, and/or given us the strength to come out the other side of our adversities we have a testimony. However big or small the issue was/is, God always has a plan and so He deserves all the glory. Testimonies are examples of God working in your life. Two main purposes of Testimonies are to praise and worship God for what He has done and to also encourage others who are going through a similar time. As the above verse mentions, when we are going through affliction and we seek God for comfort, we are then likely to better understand how to help others who go through similar situations.
As I mentioned before, this list of reasons/purposes for suffering is definitely not exhaustive. In the next part we will look more in detail at how to prevent/handle situations.
Thank you for reading, I hope that you now have a better understanding of God and suffering. God does not want us to suffer but He can bring about a positive purpose from our suffering or even supernaturally eradicate our problems should He choose to (e.g. miracle healing).
Song of the post: Oceans (Where Feet May Fall) - Hillsong United