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gray wolf

The Problem of Suffering/Evil: a Biblical Approach.

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I would like to start a discussion on the Problem of Suffering. Instead of the same old theodicies in God's defense, I would like to see what the Bible says about it. I read a very good book on it recently by a nonbeliever that went into it in depth. The Bible writers were bothered by it as we are and offered various explanations that are extremely diverse.

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No one is exempt from suffering.  I cannot use any other reference other then the Bible.  God did not promise us this life without pain.  He did promise however He would walk us through it with us step by step if we choose to trust Him.  This world is not our home.  Our real home is in Heaven with Christ.  Even Paul said that what he was going through now did not even compare what awaited him and those who believe in Jesus. in fact he counted it all joy to suffer for Christ sake because he know where his real reward was. None of us are going to get out of this life alive unless we are raptured, and even then we are subject to live in a fallen world and live in bodies that break down.  So until then trust in Him and know that He is able to see us through until the end.

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Interesting question. A few things pop to mind.

 

There is of course Job, in which God speaks out of the whirlwind and basically gets Job to think about God's own superior knowledge so as to get Job to believe that God knows what He is doing, even if Job doesn't.

 

Here I have added Job's response

 

Job 42:2-3

I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

'Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.

 

My understanding of this is that God has more of the relevant knowledge than we could hope to have, so even if a situation looks on the surface to be entirely bad, there may be morally sufficient conditions for it to occur that we just aren't cognitively equipped to understand.

 

The second sort of answer I see in the Bible is that God promises eternal rewards, at least to some, so in that sense what is finite suffering in the face of infinite eternal peace with God.

 

Isa 25:8

He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the LORD has spoken.

 

Also one of the fantastically unique things about Christianity is that Christ is God in the flesh, and therefore God understands us in an unusually intimate sort of way. God did not just put us in a difficult world where we would struggle and suffer, but Christ Himself struggled and suffered also, and therefore offers us special help.

 

Hebr 4:15

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

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well, I'm not sure where you're headed with the thread, but my first thoughts would be that suffering in general is an object lesson to the universe on the effects of letting Satan and his ways exist.  that's the overall gist of the entirety of the Bible to me concerning suffering.

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good responses l. I've found out also what Alpha describes in detail as well. I've found some others in addition:

Paul describes that not only can suffering be redemptive and nothing compared to eternal bliss, but also the view of the cosmic struggle with Satan as the source of much suffering. Then Christ will return for the ultimate victory of good. This view explains natural disaster as well.

Another view is offered in the OT that suffering is the result of God punishing Israel for sins: idolatry and mistreatment of the powerless (widows and orphans for example).

God does tell Job that he has no business asking why he is suffering, although we know the answer.

Edited by gray wolf

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I will agree that nobody is exempt from suffering. I do however, disagree that it is of the devil. To me, suffering is caused by us humans alone, along with nature. Though suffering is a part of life and we must move onward from it

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I wouldn't venture to state that all suffering is of Satan. We undoubtedly cause much of it ourselves, which the Bible teaches as well. And then you do have natural calamity, earthquakes, tsunamis, screw flies, etc. some believe these occur as a result of the earth being under the curse. I don't know about that. Jesus gave a good example with the tower of Siloam, I think.

Edited by gray wolf

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Blessings Everyone!

    Of course how much better is it for one to learn than to have personal experience...and for each Gods purpose according to his calling.When I was diagnosed just 3yrs ago with stage 4,incurable colorectal cancer I knew immediately that the devil (once again)wanted to kill me but I also knew that God would not allow it,I had an immediate peace come over me as the doctors tried to gently tell me the bad news(I actually finished the sentence for them).....the Lord put a knowing(best I could describe it)in my spirit that He would use me to give Him glory as His living testimony......to make a long story short,He did just that..

    Now,in all of this there was much pain & suffering But I held on to the fact that God gave me this honor,He trusted me to praise Him through it & encourage others(by no power of my own)God did not give me cancer but He allowed it to turn it to good.....though I am cured of the cancer there remains alot of pain and suffering from post radiation symptoms.....I have many of my brethren that insist(like Job)I must be blocking Gods complete healing....no way!

    I believe,and I am not claiming that this state is permanent,but for now it is the thorn in my side.....a reminder of what God has done.......I know that His Grace is sufficient,I know that just like Paul-the Lord says"no"......for Christs sake,it is nothing...I look at what He went through on that cross in my place(my suffering becomes irrelevant)...it keeps me from forgetting the miracle God Has blessed me with,it keeps me from forgetting to give Him the Glory,it keeps me grateful that He spared my life

that is my take on suffering......I hope it helps someone to be grateful for what they do NOT have......Life is but a  moment,anything we go through is but a blink of the eye compared to eternity....Praise Jesus!

                                                                                                                           With love,in Christ-Kwik

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Thank you for sharing Kwik. Your story is like fresh air in a discussion that gets detached from reality by focusing on the grand scheme of things. Well done.

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I wouldn't venture to state that all suffering is of Satan. We undoubtedly cause much of it ourselves, which the Bible teaches as well. And then you do have natural calamity, earthquakes, tsunamis, screw flies, etc. some believe these occur as a result of the earth being under the curse. I don't know about that. Jesus gave a good example with the tower of Siloam, I think.

I believe that the Fall is one of the major causes for suffering in the World.   (I actually liken the affects of original sin to be a bit like radioactive fallout that we all must live with to some degree or another)

 

Romans 8

 

 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[h] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

 

 

 

Besides that there are issues of human agency and responsibility.    People by their own actions cause a lot of it.   People likewise can be victims of the actions and negligence of others.   (God allows some of this for reasons of free will.   And ultimately can use it for the higher good).

 

 

Suffering can at times be directly "part of God's redemptive plan" (like the pool of Siloam. Captivity in Egypt etc.)   There are a number of potential benefits that can be attained from it.    But even that I see is God ultimately taking the curse of the Fall and using it for good.   God is like a martial arts master of Judo, Akido or Tai Chi who is able to turn the attacks of the enemy against them and thus prove his ultimate mastery.

Edited by Addai

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