Suffering – A More Complex, but More Biblical, Picture (Job pt2)

The Bibles view of suffering is complex, it takes humility, time, wisdom and prayer to discern what’s happening not simplistic off the shelf applications based on a limited grasp of the Bible’s teaching. In Job we see how complex suffering is, how harmful misapplying theology is and how dangerous a graceless view of God can be. 

Too often our theology of suffering is deficient. We think there are only one or two types of suffering, when in reality the Bible’s teaching on suffering is far more complex. The Bible gives us at least 5 categories of suffering, though there is overlap within and across categories, and none of those categories has hard edges:

Suffering for sin.  Ever since the fall there’ve been consequences for sin.  Both generally because the world is broken and we all suffer along with it, but also specifically where our sinful actions cause us to reap painful consequences.  A godly response to this type of suffering is to examine ourselves, confess our sin and it’s consequences and repent and sin no more, and God joyfully meets us with welcoming grace.

Suffering for spiritual growth.  Another way God uses suffering is to grow us in Christlikeness.  Romans 5v3-5 tells us God can use our suffering to produce perseverance, character and hope.  The Joseph account shows us an arrogant young teen transformed into a godly grace giving God fearer by his suffering.  A godly response to that sort of suffering is to keep on seeking God and fix our eyes on Jesus.

Suffering for Christ’s sake.  The world hates Jesus followers, we see that throughout the Bible, and Jesus warns us we’ll suffer if we follow him.  Persecution is the norm for the disciple of Jesus. A godly response is to keep preaching and living the gospel, doing good and not shrink back even when we are slandered or attacked for doing good (See 1 Peter).

Suffering as sojourn.

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