Why Suffering?

Most suffering is caused by sin and evil.

Genesis 3:1-19, Eve and Adam’s sin brought suffering to them and us.
Romans 5:12-21, Death entered the world as a result of sin.
Isaiah 59:1-15, Our sin separates us from God.
Romans 2:9, 3:9-20, Personal sin brings suffering.
Isaiah 1:1-9, Corporate sin brings suffering.

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Genesis 3:1-19, Eve and Adam’s sin brought suffering to them and us. (11/17/14)

If suffering doesn’t come from God, where does it come from? Most biblical writers attribute all suffering to evil; therefore they conclude that anything that causes suffering is evil. (This seems a little circular to the Western mind, and in fact we’ll see some minority biblical points of view later on.) My own position is this: although not all suffering arises from sin and evil, most of it does. Certainly the Bible says that suffering first entered the world as the direct result of sin.


Romans 5:12-21, Death entered the world as a result of sin. (11/18/14)

There’s no doubt that death can be a release from suffering; however, dying can entail much suffering, and the death of a loved one causes us the suffering of grief. The point I want us to think about today is that death came into the world as a result of sin.


Isaiah 59:1-15, Our sin separates us from God. (11/19/14)

An older man and his wife were driving along a country road in the moonlight. He was in the driver’s seat, and she was leaning against the passenger window. Becoming sentimental, she said to her husband, “Do you remember how we used to drive along on nights like this, snuggled together, with our arms around each other? Why don’t we do that anymore?” The old gentleman thought that over for a while, and then he said, “I ain’t moved.”

The worst part about sin is that it separates us from God: sin automatically moves us away from God and puts up a barrier between us. Without God’s loving closeness, without his arms around us, we suffer. God loves us just as much as ever, but we aren’t there beside him to feel it. God wants us back; we should move.


Romans 2:9, 3:9-20, Personal sin brings suffering. (11/20/14)

Every sin causes somebody to suffer. It may be the sinner who suffers, it may be a direct or indirect victim of the sinner, it may be society at large, but somebody is going to suffer for every sin that you or I commit. Since there is unfortunately a lot of sin in the world, I think (along with the writers of the Bible) that most suffering is caused by sin.

That is not the same as saying that all suffering is evidence of personal sin (for example, see our study of Job). In a couple of weeks we’ll look at the biblical support for the idea that some suffering is just there, like rocks. Meantime, however, we need to acknowledge that usually the answer to “Why suffering?” is “Sin.”


Isaiah 1:1-9, Corporate sin brings suffering. (11/21/14)

When an individual person commits a sin, somebody suffers because of it. It is also true that when society as a whole commits sins, somebody – usually a whole lot of somebodies – suffers for it. Unless you are a prophet, chosen by God, the most effective way you personally can prevent societal sin is to stop sinning. Never underestimate the influence of either your participation or your example of restraint.


More on Why Suffering?
Suffering does not originate with God.
Most suffering is caused by sin and evil.
Some suffering results from my own sin or someone else's sin.
God punishes sin to instruct us.
Some suffering results from being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
God is with us, and God and our Christian family share the burden of our suffering.

Copyright 2014, 2015 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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