As a youth pastor, I host the weekly youth Bible study, and in yesterday’s class, we had an interesting discussion about the concept of suffering. Of course, such a topic evoked lots of emotions as everyone in the group had personal, painful experiences they had gone through. Before everyone began sharing their experiences, I thought it important first to understand suffering from a Biblical standpoint. I needed to ask them a few questions to decipher how well they understood the idea of suffering in the Bible. My first question was: “How many times is suffering mentioned in the Bible?”
The specific word ‘suffering’ is mentioned 6 times in the King James Version of the Bible. For example, it appears in Romans 5:3-4 and Romans 8:18. Other variations of the word, such as ‘suffer’ and ‘suffered’ also appear numerous times in the Holy Book.
In this article, I examined the concept of suffering within the Bible’s context. I also looked at key figures’ suffering and what the Christian faith has pulled from those experiences. It is a great read that any believer will enjoy.
What Does the Bible Say About Suffering?
The Bible gives elaborate meaning to suffering, its causes, and the reasoning behind it. It also gives good examples and explanations on the topic. For instance, the Holy Book tells the stories of Job (Book of Job) and Joseph (Genesis 50:19-21), who both endured a lot of pain. Job suffered an unimaginable struggle without having a clear explanation, while Joseph was betrayed by his brothers and sold as a slave. But the common outcome in both stories is that God never abandoned them. These are great Biblical illustrations to Christians that God offers comfort in times of struggle. This is reiterated in Romans 8:28, which says that all things will work for good if you love the Lord.
Although it may not happen instantaneously, God will always deliver His people and answer their prayers. Look at the story of David, where he expressed all his pain in Psalms 22. God answered him centuries later through the prophecy of Jesus Christ. Christ as well endured a lot of suffering but received grace at the end. From all these examples, it is clear that the Bible teaches Christians to put their trust in God in the face of adversity. He will not forsake His people.
Examples of Suffering in The Bible
Many figures in the Bible went through turmoil and suffering even as God’s faithful followers. Other Bible verses guide how to handle these hard times. Here are some examples of suffering in the Bible:
- Psalm 142:1-2 – David beseeches God for His intervention because he is suffering under the torment of King Saul, who is out to kill him.
- 1 Peter 4:1 – Christ’s suffering purged sin, and likewise, our physical pain rids us of wickedness.
- 2 Timothy 3:12 – all of Christ’s followers must face persecution.
- Exodus 15:25 – Moses faces an enormous struggle while in the wilderness, where he was spiritually and physically in agony.
- Job 10:1-4 – Job cries out to God, questioning Him because he is facing unbearable suffering.
- 1 Kings 19:4 – Elijah suffered as he ran for his life away from Jezebel, who threatened to kill him.
- Colossians 1:24 – Paul explains that the suffering he is enduring is for his love for Jesus Christ.
- James 1:12 – those under trial are blessed in the eyes of the Lord. They will be handsomely rewarded.
- Isaiah 53:3-12 – here, the plight and suffering of Jesus Christ are explained. From how He was a man of sorrow to how he was despised by everyone.
- Jeremiah 20:18 – Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, was facing emotional torment as he was rejected constantly.
- Luke 14:27 – Christians are expected to carry their cross and follow Jesus. The cross is figurative of the suffering they will endure.
- 2 Samuel 12:15-23 – David is in deep anguish and suffering after the loss of his two sons.
Types of Biblical Suffering
Not all suffering is the same. They have different causes and effects. Ray Ortland from The Gospel Coalition attempts to shed light on the matter. According to him, there are three types of suffering:
If we sin, we suffer the consequences of those actions because sin always brings misery. Numbers 32:23 says that our sins will find us out. They always catch up with us.
Sometimes, even if we do not do wrong, we feel tremendous pain. For example, if you are born with a disability. A Biblical example of innocent suffering can be found in 2 Kings 21:16, where Manasseh killed blameless people.
Righteous suffering befalls God’s faithful servants who stand by Him relentlessly. For instance, the murder of Abel by his brother Cain. He was killed because of his good deeds (1 John 3:12).
Does God Want Us to Suffer in Silence?
Absolutely not. The Lord does not want us to suffer in silence. Biblical interpreters instead say that He calls on us to come directly to His seat will all our problems and pains. We should be free with God and lament to Him as this is not considered a sin. It is a sign of strong faith. God cares and will cure the suffering hearts of all His children. This is according to Hebrews 4:16.
Why Does God Allow Suffering?
God allows suffering for the development of His people (Romans 5:3-5). God does not enjoy his children’s suffering but instead, like a responsible parent, allows Christians to face these hurdles as a learning lesson. At times, through experiencing the bad outcomes of our choices, we get correction. It is thought that God does not cause pain but instead allows it. This is because He gives all human beings free will and does not make choices for us. Therefore, the consequences of those actions are not His doing.
They say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, right? Being raised by Christians significantly impacted my life since I started professing Christ from a young age. My passion for the Christian faith made me pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology. I am a believer and pastor dedicated to spreading the word of God. I have been in the Christian ministry for over a decade and am currently ministering in Life Christian Church. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Please check the About Us Page for more details.