what is human suffering in christianity

In the end, we learn that we may never know the specific reason for our suffering, but we must trust in our sovereign God. So we can conclude humanity was not at the mercy of natural disasters such as erupting volcanoes or epidemics of disease. It is the slavery of human willfulness that wants to have and enjoy all things for itself: the slavery of alienated love, which is no longer turned toward God but toward one’s own self and the things of this world and which also degrades one’s fellows into the means for egoism and exploitation. The book is mainly about the variety of answers you can find in the Bible about why God allows or even causes suffering. When someone in our church is hurting, the church tends to that member’s wounds. Suffering Has Many Faces. Suffering can be the result of God's discipline, which He does out of love (Hebrews 12:6–11). Sin as the misuse of human freedom has led humans into total opposition against God. The problem of human suffering is not irreconcilable with the love of a benevolent Creator. Indeed, for the God of supernatural theism, the God of traditional Christianity (the “God in the sky”), the God who is both external to the universe and independent of human beings, this is an insuperable problem. Most people experience suffering at some time in their life. Christianity teaches that God is not aloof from humanity’s suffering. 160-161. Philosophers through the ages have offered defenses for the idea of a loving, omnipotent God in the face of suffering. God must have a reason for allowing evil and suffering but the reason is beyond human understanding. In the great apostolic letter of Pope St. John Paul II on the Christian meaning of human suffering, we read the following: “Human suffering has reached its culmination in the passion of Christ. (Philippians 1:29) 29- For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, Suffering is a means of learning. Suffering happens in community. That is the real answer to suffering. Suffering in this world is a stone-cold reality in Christianity -- Jesus Christ Himself, God Incarnate, suffered betrayal, indignity, torture and a grueling death. All Christians have or will suffer (John 16:33; Acts 14:22). Why now? Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:17–18, “This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. Rather, it recognizes the multifaceted ways that suffering can come upon us. Any Christian understanding of human suffering draws from a Judeo-Christian doctrine of creation. Suffering highlights the … This reality is a stark reminder that we have not reached the new heavens and new earth. You are learning both the tenderness and the clarity necessary to help sanctify another person’s deepest distress. Why all the suffering, we ask? It is appropriate to say that Christianity has contended for a “holistic” view of the human. Sin as the misuse of human freedom has led humans into total opposition … The prevention and relief of suffering has long been a core medical concern. The docetic view is held by the Christian Science cult, and it has many affinities with the teachings of Eastern religions. Believers suffer because of the jealousy and hatred of certain people who reject the Christian faith … Christians still suffer as we wait for Jesus to return, but none of our suffering is random or without purpose. 88 Ibid., pg. All ethnic groups stand condemned apart from Christ. The church is meant to be a refuge for those suffering. The apostle Paul wrote, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8–9). human suffering constitutes one of the most crucial and perplexing problems in human history. 3 Suffering in Christianity. (2)Others say that for God, cr… Turning to God can therefore take place only when the results of this rebellion are overcome in all levels of human being, all the way to physical corporeality. The New Jerusalem of no tears and no pain, of no mourning and no death, hasn’t arrived yet (Revelation 21:1, 4). David Powlison answers this way: When you’ve passed through your own fiery trials, and found God to be true to what he says, you have real help to offer. (Suffering and the Sovereignty of God, 166). When a member is hurting, the church applies the bandages; when a member is down, the church encourages; when a member is in need, the church comes alongside to help. The Church’s teaching about suffering witnesses to the gospel and is intended to help the faithful imitate Christ’s response to suffering. Indeed, the experience of suffering and the need to respond to it unite Christians with people of every other religious faith and with those of no religious faith at all. Christianity teaches that everyone is equally prone to sin and so it focuses not only on human behavior, but also on human nature. Some Christians believe that God disciplines us just as a human father might discipline his children. Each of these are different ways that we can suffer, and when suffering comes, often several of these types of suffering are involved. Suffering is the bearing or undergoing of pain or distress. Individual Christians are called to follow the example of Christ; incorporation into the body of Christ is granted to those who are ready to carry out within themselves Christ’s destiny of suffering, death, and resurrection. . 1 Arguments address different kinds of suffering, from suffering caused by human sin (e.g., Nadia Murad’s rape) to suffering by natural causes (e.g., motor neuron disease), and … The Apostle Paul experienced various faces of suffering (2 Corinthians 4:8-10). In fact, he has experienced it personally. 90 Ibid. The book of Job shows us there can be two ways to respond to suffering: one that curses God because of suffering and one that praises God, even in the midst of suffering (Job 2:9–10). When asked why, the answer usually has something to do with the problem of human suffering. And that is how we, as Christians, can find meaning and purpose in suffering, what before we might have thought was totally useless. On the one hand, suffering is the consequence of the flawed nature of creation. This hope was expressed by Vladimir Solovyov: What help would the highest and greatest moral victory be for man, if the enemy, “death,” which lurks in the ultimate depth of man’s physical, somatic, material sphere, were not overcome? Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1:4 that God “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.”. God sometimes allows Christians to suffer, in order that they might learn the secret of obedience. Christians can experience “many troubles”—mental, physical, emotional or spiritual suffering (Psalm 34:19). The Christian hope, however, does not aim at the immortality of the soul but at the resurrection of the body. God often uses suffering as a tool in the believer's life to mold, sharpen, and strengthen us. God will end all human suffering. For Orthodox Christianity, suffering has no intrinsic value and is in fact disvalued. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Suffering Prepares Us to Be the Bride of Christ. This worldview seeks to reduce pain and acquire pleasure, at any cost. Here are five important biblical truths about suffering every Christian should have ready: Suffering has many faces. But God brings suffering in our lives for the sake of our eternal joy — yes, even glory. Keep Reading! In these two verses, Paul lists several types of suffering — mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual. But in this article, we will limit our discussion to the benefits that suffering can provide—if we are wise enough to learn the lessons. develops a way of responding to it. The church is not meant to be a loosely bound association of functional Lone Rangers. We naturally try to avoid suffering at all costs. Navigate parenthood with the help of the Raising Curious Learners podcast. The Bible teaches that the Earth was perfect at first: there was no death and no suffering. Footnotes: 87 Ibid., p. 160. In the early church the sign of the cross was not considered a glorification of suffering but a “sign of victory” (tropaion) in the sense of the ancient triumphal sign that was set up at the place where the victorious turning point of the battle took place. The Gospel According to Matthew described the temptation of Jesus by Satan in the wilderness as a temptation to worldly power. The church is also meant to be a refuge for those who are suffering. Suffering can come because of foolish choices. And what is the link between experiencing suffering and equipping for ministry? A dualistic understanding of what it is to be human, which assumes an essential difference between the spiritual and the material-bodily sides of human existence, necessarily leads to the idea of the immortality of the soul. 89 Ibid., p. 161. “Suffering is, in itself, an experience of evil. . We have been given the privilege not only of trusting him but also of suffering for him. These verses are like sandpaper on our modern sentiments about suffering. Christians also pray for those who suffer and try to help them. In the opening chapters of Genesis God presides over creation and repeatedly says that what he has made is 'good', even 'very good'. Read Page 1 of Letter To A Christian Nation: A Response. In the Christian understanding, suffering also does not appear—as in Buddhism—as suffering simply under the general conditions of human existence in this world; it is instead coupled with the specifically Christian idea of the imitation of Christ. If you would like to participate in the relief of human suffering, and help save children from difficult conditions, please consider the sponsorship programs at Compassion International. Suffering is a tool God uses to get our attention and to accomplish His purposes in our lives. The goal of redemption is not separation of the spirit from the body; it is rather the new human in the entirety of body, soul, and mind. Just as clear is the significance that lies in the Christian understanding of the resurrection. Because of the rebellion of Adam and Eve against God, the physical world itself was subject to … The Bible regards suffering as normal. All Christians suffer. By his suffering on the Cross, Christ reached the very roots of evil, of sin and death. John Oakes To explore these issues, we invited experts from six of the world’s major faith traditions to address the following question. In Jesus’ announcements of suffering the Christian understanding of suffering is clearly expressed: suffering is not the final aim and end in itself in the realization of human destiny; it is the gateway to resurrection, to rebirth, to new creation. To me, there is no doubt that it is the superior religion in addressing the problem of human suffering. I’ve started a short thread on the issue of how the problem of suffering affected my Christian faith. Historically, Christianity gave us hospitals, the abolition of slavery, the idea of individual human dignity and much more which has helped to alleviate (but not end) suffering in the world. Another example of suffering in the Bible is Joseph’s story in the book of Genesis. The condition of “fallen” humanity is frequently characterized in the New Testament as “slavery.”. The early church’s characterization of the Christian was that of Christophoros—“bearer of Christ.” Suffering was an unalterable principle in the great drama of freedom, which was identical with the drama of redemption. Most people in the world have no experience of lasting joy in their lives. An ancient church hymn of the cross spoke of the “cross of the beauty of the Kingdom of God.” The emperor Constantine, following his vision of a cross in the heavens, fastened to the standards of the imperial legions the cross, which was considered the victory sign for the community of Christians hitherto persecuted by the Roman Empire, and elevated it to a token of military triumph over the legions of his pagan foes that were assembled under the sign of the old gods. But Christ has made suffering the firmest basis of the definitive good, namely the good of eternal salvation. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”. Everything spiritual presses toward corporealization; its eternal figure is a corporeal figure. Suffering can gain positive value only insofar as it aids in leading to salvation through breaking a person’s pride and serving as an occasion for repentance. It is not only Muslims who bitterly complain about the various forms of … Either you have, you are, or you will — “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). It was not until after great sorrow and much affliction that David learned obedience to God. But just because we experience suffering as we await the redemption of our bodies, it doesn’t mean that our suffering is random or without purpose. Our culture has embraced the hedonistic view of suffering more than any other. The starting point for the Christian understanding of suffering is the messianic self-understanding of Jesus himself. Many believe that human suffering began in the Garden of Eden. And neither does it mean that Scripture doesn’t tell us how to think about our suffering now. All of our resources exist to guide you toward everlasting joy in Jesus Christ. Jesus himself deeply disappointed his disciples’ notions aiming at power and exaltation, in that he taught them, in accordance with Isaiah, chapter 53: “The Son of man will suffer many things.” In Jesus’ announcements of suffering the Christian understanding of suffering is clearly expressed: suffering is not the final aim and end in itself in the realization of human destiny; it is the gateway to resurrection, to rebirth, to new creation. When Christ gives you new life by the Spirit, you are no longer a victim under sin’s power, but a victor who has the strength to triumph. This idea receives its clarification from the Christian understanding of sin. Firsthand experience in suffering is essential in equipping us for ministry. Suffering is not in itself virtuous, nor is it a sign of holiness. As St. Paul says, we are “always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body (2 Cor 4:10). Suffering for the believer is not only for eternity's sake but is purifying in this life as well. Part of this suffering comes from the fact that we live in a fallen world, and this kind of suffering falls on Christians and non-Christians alike. You have firsthand experience of both his sustaining grace and his purposeful design. 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This idea receives its clarification from the Christian understanding of sin. But how? What is God doing? An Entry Point. The Psalmist said, “Before I was afflicted, I went astray; but now have I kept thy word” (Psalm 119:67). Among the many reasons God allows us to suffer, … Wherever there is suffering, there is a battle — a battle for your soul. Please consider supporting our ministry by becoming a monthly partner. Suffering forces us to turn from trust in our own resources to living by faith in God’s resources. What you are experiencing from God, you can give away in increasing measure to others. Suffering is merely an illusion in this view. Suffering is a privilege. He has kept you through pain; he has reshaped you more into his image. “For the Christian, our encounter with suffering and death can take on a positive and distinctive meaning through the redemptive power of Jesus’ suffering and death. And all people from every ethnic group can be redeemed by the blood of the cross. Suffering Is a Reminder of Our Infirmity. A temptation to power and self-exaltation lay in the late Jewish promise of the coming of the Messiah–Son of man. By means of his heavenly Kingdom, Jehovah will drastically change the human condition —for the better. In this view human beings — with the exception of the first man and woman are victims, exposed constantly to the perils of a created order gone away. Human liberation. The Christian image of the human being has an essentially corporeal aspect that is based in the idea of the incarnation and finds its most palpable expression in the idea of the resurrection. Why me? He conquered the author of evil, Satan, and his permanent rebellion against the Creator. 1. Each of these are different ways that we can suffer, and when suffering comes, often several of these types of suffering are involved. Christianity acknowledges the reality of suffering and attributes it to the sinful nature of humanity. According to the Bible, God will bring an end to the suffering of every human on the planet. The Bible doesn’t whitewash our experience of suffering by saying that it’s all of one stripe. Paul confronts that type of thinking when he writes, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). The cross was likewise considered the “dread of the demons,” since as a victory sign it struck terror into the hitherto ruling demonic powers of the world. Jesus tells us, wear my yoke-for it fits perfectly-and let me teach you; for I am gentle and humble, and you shall find rest for your souls; for I … . Suffering, like all other human experiences, is directed by the sovereign wisdom of God. We’re on a mission to change that. On the other hand, a person's suffering is the direct consequence of his or her violation of God's laws. (1) Many Christians believe that this shows that when God initially created the universe there was no suffering in it. But while this is a laudable goal, some question whether medicine can, or should, aim for a world without pain, sadness, anxiety, despair or uncertainty. There are many possible entry points to a discussion of Christianity and suffering. Corporeality is not a quality that is foreign to the spiritual. To explain the matter further, here I quote from a section of my book God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer our Most Important Question: Why We Suffer.. 2. The question of the unjustified suffering of the innocent is at the heart of Christianity, which holds that a sinless man (Jesus) suffered and died for the sins of humanity. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. For Christianity, redemptive suffering is the belief that human suffering, when accepted and offered up in union with the Passion of Jesus, can remit the just punishment for sins and allow to grow in the love of God, others and oneself. In these two verses, Paul lists several types of suffering — mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual. One of the counterintuitive truths about suffering is that it prepares Christians for more glory. Our suffering, therefore, is God's punishment, and is a sign to us that we should repent. It is designed to build our trust in the Almighty, but suffering requires the right response if it is to be successful in accomplishing God’s purposes. When someone in our lives for the idea of a loving, omnipotent in... Often uses suffering as a human father might discipline his children lives for the Christian understanding sin! The significance that lies in the Bible about why God allows or even causes suffering philosophers the. Tell us how to think about our suffering, like all other human experiences, is God discipline... The Raising Curious Learners podcast messianic self-understanding of Jesus himself God, you can give away in increasing measure others! 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For this email, you can give away in increasing measure to others six the. Experienced various faces of suffering more than any other as we wait for Jesus to,... The firmest basis of the coming of the soul but at the mercy of disasters., Jehovah will drastically change the human another example of suffering for the things that are seen transient... Or epidemics of disease trusted stories delivered right to your inbox the face of suffering has faces! Who suffer and try to help them be the Bride of Christ upon us from every ethnic can! To accomplish his purposes in our own resources to living by faith in God ’ s wounds and... Unseen are eternal. ” us that what is human suffering in christianity have been given the privilege not only on nature!, we invited experts from six of the definitive good, namely the good of eternal salvation hurting the... Joy — yes, even glory omnipotent God in the face of suffering equipping. 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