suffering

suffering

Pain or distress. Suffering takes many forms: physical pain, frustrated hopes, depression, isolation, loneliness, grief, anxiety, spiritual crisis, and more. The biblical peoples struggled with the presence of suffering in their lives and sought ways to understand it and cope with it that could include their belief in both God’s power and God’s goodness. The biblical responses to suffering can be divided into five categories. (1) The most common way to understand the presence of suffering in the world is to say that it is the result of human sin, the fault of human disobedience (Gen 3:14-19). (2) Although suffering is by definition a very undesirable experience, it may be explained as leading to some greater good or serving a benevolent purpose (Rom 5:1-5). (3) In the NT, suffering is often caused by cosmic evil forces: demons (Luke 9:38-39), evil spirits (Acts 19:11-12), Satan (Luke 13:16), or the devil (Acts 10:38). (4) Suffering is often mysterious. People are sometimes encouraged to give up the intellectual quest to understand the whys and wherefores of suffering and to leave the unknown in the care of God (Job 38-41). (5) Whether humans can find answers to their questions about suffering, laments provide help in coping with the immediate experience (Ps 3; Ps 5; Ps 10; Ps 17; Ps 38). There is assurance from the biblical writers that God will hear the prayers of those who cry out for help and comfort (Ps 65:2; Ps 66:16-20; Ps 102:1-2; Ps 102:17; Mark 11:24; 2Cor 1:8-11; Phil 1:19-20).

Gen 3:14-19

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Rom 5:1-5

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Luke 9:38-39

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Acts 19:11-12

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Luke 13:16

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Acts 10:38

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Job 38-41

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Ps 3

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Ps 5

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Ps 10

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Ps 17

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Ps 38

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Ps 65:2

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Ps 66:16-20

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Ps 102:1-2

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Ps 102:17

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Mark 11:24

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2Cor 1:8-11

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Phil 1:19-20

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