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Author: Jancy James   20 Aug 2021

From time immemorial, the question of sin and suffering has left a very ambiguous sense of unease in our minds. The world is replete with so much sufferings of all kind, that it becomes tough for us to hold on to the Gospel, and believe that our father in heaven means only our good.

When we encounter suffering, we subconsciously assume that the person involved has sinned terribly and has been punished by God for his transgressions.

Accusers would take a step further, calling a spade a spade, looking triumphant, and passing the final judgment: “See, I told you so. You never listened to me. Now you bear the brunt of your actions!”

Does sin really cause suffering? Do people suffer because of the ungodly and evil choices they make in their lives? Are they responsible for their own suffering?

These are questions that form a bitter taste in our mouths and leave much to be desired by way of a definite answer.

Let’s summon up enough courage to turn the leaves of The Holy Bible, and see what a revelation God is going to unfold before us…

The Fall of Man

Genesis starts with the celestial vision of a beautiful relationship with God and His creation. Pure and unblemished in sin, The Garden of Eden is a perfect backdrop for a biblical narrative that shows the all encompassing love of God, until mankind sinned and fell out of God’s favour.

In Genesis 3:16-19, God clearly reveals to us that man is destined to suffer on earth, all days of his life for his disobedience (sin). Suffering surely started as a result of the direct sin committed by Adam and Eve. God curses Adam and Eve with pain and toil till the end of their lives.

However, it is very insensitive to assume that all human beings suffer only because of the sins they committed on earth. The Son of God went through the worst kind of suffering and torture on the cross, to pay for our inequities. Was He a sinner? No!

A Lesson to be learnt – The Integrity of Job

The story of Job is an exemplary example of steadfastness in the face of extreme adversity. Job was exposed to afflictions and misfortunes beyond human imagination. Was he a sinner? Certainly not! Did he suffer? Yes, terribly so and most undeserved we must say…

We see in the Book of Job that he is put through substantial physical and mental agony, with the approval of God who allows Satan to test him. Job loses his wealth, children, health, and everything else on earth except his wife. It is through his nameless wife, who seems to be bitterness and accusation personified, that he persists in his integrity and devotion to His Heavenly Father. Job’s story is illustrative of God’s power to impart suffering for testing the faith of his subjects.

Job 2:9 :Then his wife said to him, “Do you still persist in your integrity? Curse God, and die.”

The querulous accusations of Job’s wife serve as an eye-opener, and sent him running to take refuge in God’s royal sanctuary. We see that Job is amply blessed with all that he had lost before and much more, for holding his unwavering faith in Divine providence.

Job teaches us a few lessons worth pondering on while we are in suffering and pain, and when being accused and ridiculed by many.

Job shows us that blind devotion and belief that our God can see the bigger picture and knows what we are going through, will help us to persist and endure penury of all kinds with honour, even if we are in danger of death.

This kind of trust and devotion can lead to miraculous outcomes, surely in Heaven, if not on earth. One must remember here, that the outcome that we look for, be it healing, blessings or material benefits, may not exactly be the way God plans to reward us.

However, what reward that is better than “attainment of heaven” can we ever dream of in this life!

Suffering to Restore Faith and Purity

There’s no doubt that God sometimes sends hardships and misery to test our faith and devotion, and also to purify our souls. Therefore, when tragedy and grief befall us, we must not lose faith, but be in patient tolerance.

James 1:2-3 calls out to us to consider it pure joy if we are chosen to bear trials of any kind, for testing of our faith produces endurance, and you become mature and complete in God’s eyes.

Abraham sent his only son Isaac to the sacrificial pyre, without complaining, or casting an iota of doubt in His God, whom he believed had the power to raise the dead. Just like Abraham, in times of suffering and pain, we must also hold on to His everlasting love and promise, never to leave us alone in misery.

Suffering as Direct Judgment from God

Sometimes, suffering is a direct judgment from God, to get our attention to a specific sin that requires immediate chastisement to save our souls. Old Testament has many references wherein God punishes his followers with immediate death for disobedience. When Uzzah touched the ark, he fell dead. Nadab and Abihu died before the Lord when they offered unholy fire before Him in the wilderness of Sinai. Even Moses was punished for his sins. Death entered the world as a result of sin.

John 5:14 talks about the man who was cured after being ill for thirty eight years. Later Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you have been made well! Do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.”

Again Luke 5:20 throws before us the paralytic who is healed with the words, “your sins are forgiven”.

Therefore, we must realize that some of the suffering we endure could very well be a direct punishment from God due to the natural consequences of our sin. Sin puts a barrier between us and God, and causes suffering as we are out of His protective arms. Our loving Father wants us back and hence puts us through suffering to restore our love for Him. This kind of suffering can help us make an evaluation of our life situation and bring alterations based on our assessment.

Many a time, it is difficult to fathom if God really loves us.

If we are His chosen flock, why does He want us to suffer?

Here, our Heavenly Father is giving us grace, trying to correct us and provide a chance to repent and restore our place in Heaven.

The whole existence of our life on earth revolves around the depth of our relationship with God. Our goal is to maintain this relationship with God through suffering and pain, as well as through joy and blessings.

Hebrews 12:6 says:“for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves, and chastises every child whom he accepts.

Sin and Suffering

While Bible talks in no uncertain terms that sin causes suffering and death, it must not be our measuring scale to assess the degree of a person’s suffering in proportion to the sin he has committed on earth. Job himself is an example that negates this theory.

Suffering is sometimes administered to bring out the glory of God’s works. In the Gospel of John we see Jesus conforming to this theory.

When Jesus meets a man who is blind from birth, His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.

Despite all these, all kinds of sins can cause suffering of some kind, either to the sinner, or to someone who is directly or indirectly close to him, or to a community, or to the world as a whole. This is a biological phenomenon and does not necessarily pertain to a biblical theory. To protect ourselves from such conditions of suffering, we need to keep ourselves from committing personal sins, and take refuge in prayer and in the perusal of the Word of God. Collective effort in having restraint and prayer can help in exuding positivity and divine intervention in such situations.

Romans 2:9 says, “There will be anguish and distress for everyone who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek.”

Is it all worth it?

We see many notoriously sinful people who are deeply and quite blatantly living in sin, and who get away without any kind of suffering or banishment.  We see them in deep enjoyment and ecstasy, living the good life.

We also see rather innocent people drowned in suffering and persecution, which make us question our own Christian belief system.

God sometimes uses suffering to teach lessons that can lead us closer to Him. The believer is given a chance to experience God at this time and repent and mend his ways. Suffering is a battle between Satan and Man. It tests our faith and challenges us as to whom we want to pledge an oath of allegiance to. Some fall, some gain victory over the testing time, and some are left without direction.

Nonetheless, all those who suffer need not always be sinners. Even though Bible says “you reap what you sow”, it need not necessarily be true in all cases. The true consequence of our sins is pronounced at the Final Judgment.

Intimacy with God and Savior

So, is it all worth it to be in a state of “no-sin” and suffering?

The answer lies in making a comparison between Genesis (Old Testament) and the New Testament. In Genesis, we see the divine kind of love between God, and Adam and Eve. However, the intimacy that is seen is a very reverential and heavenly kind of intimacy, laced with a certain amount of fear and responsibility, and also of total submission to the creator.

But the intimacy that we are promised with the Son of God is a much deeper and welcoming one than what Adam and Eve could have experienced with the Creator. Christ Jesus suffered for our sins and has left us with the legacy of Heaven. He suffered with mankind and made salvation possible.

Jesus is promised to us not just as a Savior who took up our transgressions, but as a Lover, Brother, Husband, Friend, or a Father figure who would suffer with us and would willingly and selflessly take up our crosses and walk with us until the end of the world. This is a much more welcoming form of intimacy with God than what is being projected in the story of Adam and Eve. The road to this intimate destination to Jesus can be attained only through pain and suffering on earth, and through a state of “no sin”, as Jesus himself attained this special intimacy with us through pain and suffering on the cross.

Suffering also prepares us for greater joy and glory in heaven. Let us examine our lives and dismiss all sinful tendencies that cause pain to our Heavenly Father. Ousting these sinful tendencies from our lives would mean that we have to go through a certain amount of suffering and heartache to become the perfect beings that God wants us to be.

Bringing our sufferings to the glory of Jesus, and fighting them off with the “Armor of God” are the only ways we can exist on earth to be considered for a seat in Heaven.







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