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Suffering

1. Who causes suffering? God or the devil?

A. The devil causes much of man's suffering:

(See Acts 10:38; Mat.15:22; Lk.8:29b; 2Tim.2:26.)

B. But it is God Who allows the devil to bring suffering:

Job 1:8-19 - [God allowed Satan to bring Job to ruin with fire, raiding bandits & a violent storm]
Job 2:3-7 - [God allowed the devil to afflict Job with boils]
(See also 1Cor.5:5; 1Tim.1:20.)

C. God is ultimately responsible for allowing suffering:

Exo.4:11 - Who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or blind? Have not I?
1Sam.2:6,7 - The Lord killeth, maketh alive, maketh poor...rich
Isa.45:7 - I make peace, & create evil; I the Lord do all these
Amos 3:6b - Be (calamity) in a city, & (hath not) the Lord done it?
(See also Deut.32:39; 2Chr.15:2b,5,6; Job 12:14-25; Psa.66:10-12a; Mic.1:12b.)

2. Why does God allow the righteous to suffer?

A. He has a loving reason for everything He does:

Rom.8:28 - All things work together for good to...the called
Gen.45:4-8 - Be not grieved...that ye sold me [as a slave]: for God did send me before you to preserve life
Gen.50:20 - Ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good
Psa.119:71 - It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn Thy statutes
Jer.37:15,16; 38:28 - [Jeremiah spent a long time in prison, but was safe there when Jerusalem was destroyed Jer.39:11-14]
Jon.2:1-7a - [Jonah suffered in the fish's belly but it saved him from drowning & took him to land Jon.1:15,17; 2:10.]

B. Suffering is often God's loving chastisement:

Pro.3:11,12 - Whom the Lord loveth He correcteth
Heb.12:5-12 - Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth
Rev.3:19 - As many as I love, I rebuke & chasten
(See also Deut.8:5; Job 5:17; 1Cor.11:32.)

C. God's chastisements are righteous:

Neh.9:33 - Thou art just in all that is brought upon us
Psa.119:75 - I know that Thy judgments are right, & that Thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me
Psa.19:9b - The judgments of the Lord are true & righteous
Pro.26:2 - The curse causeless shall not come
Jer.17:10 - I the Lord search the heart...to give every man...according to the fruit of his doings
(See also Ezk.14:22,23; Heb.12:11.)

D. Our suffering is less than we deserve:

Ezra 9:13 - God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve
Psa.78:38,39 - Full of compassion...many a time turned He His anger
Psa.103:10-14 - He hath not dealt with us after our sins

E. Continue to trust Him, even though you don't understand:

Pro.3:5 - Trust in Lord...lean not unto thine own understanding
Isa.55:8,9 - Neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord

3. Some specific reasons that God allows suffering:

A. Suffering has been a fact of life since the fall of man:

Gen.3:16-19 - [Suffering brought into the world by the fall of man]
Job 5:6,7 - Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward
(See also Job 14:1; Psa.90:10.)

B. We often bring on suffering by sin & disobedience:

Gen.42:21 - We are guilty...therefore is distress come upon us
Job 4:8 - They that plow iniquity & sow wickedness reap the same
Psa.31:9,10 - I am in trouble...grief...because of mine iniquity
Psa.38:1-8 - There is no soundness in my flesh...because of my sin
Psa.107:17 - Fools...because of their iniquities, are afflicted
Isa.66:4 - [Ignoring God & doing evil brings on mental anguish, fears & delusions]
Jer.5:25 - Your sins have withholden good things from you
(See also Jer.30:15; Lam.1:20.)

C. Because we're disbelieving or disobeying God's Word:

Deut.11:28 - A curse, if ye will not obey the commandments
Psa.78:32,33 - They believed not...their years He consumed in trouble
Psa.89:30-32 - If (they) forsake My law...visit transgression with rod
(See also Psa.107:11,12)

4. Suffering because of obedience & righteousness:

A. Sufferings & privations while serving God:

Acts 20:19 - Serving the Lord with many tears & temptations
1Cor.4:11 - We hunger, thirst, are naked, buffeted
2Cor.1:8 - [Paul's] trouble...pressed out of measure, above strength, despaired even of life
2Cor.11:23-30 - [Paul's many sufferings & troubles]
Phi.2:27a,30 - Sick nigh unto death, to supply your lack of service
(See also 2Cor.6:4-10)

B. Suffering caused by persecution:

Phi.1:29 - For unto you it is given...not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake
2Tim.3:12 - All that live godly in Jesus shall suffer persecution
2Tim.1:8 - Be not ashamed, but partaker of afflictions of gospel
Heb.11:25 - Choosing to suffer affliction with the people of God
Heb.11:35b-38 - [Saints tortured, cruelly mocked, scourged, imprisoned, slain, destitute, afflicted, tormented]
(See Rom.8:35-37; 1Pet.2:19-21; 3:16,17; Rev.2:10.)

5. The benefits & good fruits of suffering:

A. Suffering causes you to seek His Word:

Deut.8:2,3 - That He might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by (the) Word
Psa.94:12 - Blessed is the man whom Thou chastenest, O Lord, & teachest him out of Thy law
Psa.119:71 - I have been afflicted; that I might learn Thy statutes

B. Suffering refines & purifies you:

Job 23:10 - When He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold
Psa.66:10 - Thou, O God, hast proved us...tried us, as silver
Isa.48:10 - I have refined thee...in the furnace of affliction
Zech.13:9 - And I will...refine them as silver is refined
Heb.12:9-11 - Chastened...that we be partakers of His holiness
(See also Pro.17:3; Isa.1:25.)

C. It teaches you obedience:

Psa.119:67 - Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept Thy Word
Heb.5:8 - Yet learned He obedience by things which He suffered
(See also 2Cor.7:10a,11)

D. It causes you to bring forth more fruit:

Jn.15:2 - He (prunes) it, that it may bring forth more fruit

E. It humbles you:

Deut.8:2,16 - The Lord led thee in the wilderness, to humble thee
2Chr.33:12 - When he was in affliction, he humbled himself greatly
Lam.3:1,17-20 - Remembering mine affliction...my soul...is humbled

F. It teaches you patience:

Rom.5:3b - Tribulation worketh (teaches us) patience

G. It makes you wiser:

Eccl.7:2,3 - Sorrow is better...the living will lay it to heart

H. It gives you compassion & mercy on others:

2Cor.1:4 - That we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we are comforted
Heb.2:17 - [As with Jesus, it teaches you to be merciful]
Heb.2:18 - He Himself hath suffered...He is able to succour them
Heb.4:15 - Be touched with the feeling of [others'] infirmities

I. It draws you close to & makes you appreciate loved ones:

2Cor.7:4-7 - We were troubled on every side...nevertheless, God... comforted us by the coming of Titus

6. Rewards in Heaven for earthly suffering:

Lk.16:19-25 - [Lazarus the beggar rewarded & comforted]
Rom.8:18 - Sufferings of present time not worthy to be compared
2Cor.1:7 - As ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation
2Cor.4:17 - Our light affliction...worketh for us a far more exceeding & eternal weight of glory
2Tim.2:12a - If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him
Rev.21:4 - Shall be no more death...sorrow...crying...pain

7. Remember, Jesus also suffered:

Heb.4:15 - [He] was in all points tempted (tested) like as we are
Heb.12:3 - Consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners...lest ye be wearied & faint in your minds

A. The reasons that Jesus suffered:

Isa.53:3 - He hath borne our griefs, & carried our sorrows
Isa.53:4,5 - He was wounded for our transgressions...& with His stripes we are healed (See also 1Pet.2:24)
Heb.2:9,10 - Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings
1Pet.3:18 - Suffered for sins, that He might bring us to God
(See also Heb.2:17,18; 4:15; 5:7,8.)

B. Follow His example of enduring suffering:

Rom.8:17b - If we suffer with Him...be glorified together
Phi.3:10 - That I may know the fellowship of His sufferings
1Pet.2:21 - Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example
1Pet.4:1 - As Christ hath suffered for us, arm yourselves

8. The right attitude toward suffering:

Job 13:15a - Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him
Phi.3:8 - I suffered loss of all things, that I may win Christ

A. Endure suffering patiently:

Jer.10:19 - Truly this is a grief, & I must bear it
Lam.3:24-26 - Lord is my portion...hope & quietly wait in Him
Rom.12:12a - Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation
2Tim.4:5 - Watch thou in all things, endure afflictions
Heb.12:7 - If ye endure...God dealeth with you as with sons
1Pet.4:19 - Let them that suffer...commit the keeping of their souls to Him (God) in well doing

B. Pray for strength to endure suffering:

Lk.18:1 - Men ought always to pray, & not to faint
Jam.5:13 - Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray

C. We should expect afflictions & trials:

Psa.34:19 - Many are the afflictions of the righteous
Acts 14:22 - Must through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom
1Thes.3:3,4 - No man should be moved by these afflictions: for...we are appointed thereunto
1Pet.4:12 - Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial
(See also 1Cor.10:13; 1Pet.5:9.)

D. Stand strong, endure hardness:

Acts 20:23,24 - None of these things move me...that I might finish
2Tim.2:3 - Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier
Heb.11:25-27 - Choosing rather to suffer affliction...he endured
Jam.5:10,11 - Take the prophets, for an example of suffering affliction...we count them happy which endure

E. Be happy despite sufferings:

Jn.16:33b - Ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer
Rom.5:3 - We glory in tribulations...worketh patience
2Cor.7:4b - I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation
1Pet.4:13,16 - Rejoice..ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings

F. Don't murmur against God:

Job 1:20-22 - Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly (Also 2:9,10)
Psa.17:3 - I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress
1Thes.5:18 - In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God

G. Remain faithful:

Psa.119:143 - Trouble & anguish...yet Thy commandments my delights

9. Wrong attitudes towards suffering:

Exo.6:9 - [Despair:] They (Israelites) hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, & for cruel bondage
Ruth 1:20,21 - [Complaint:] for Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me
Job 2:7-9 - [Bitterness:] Then said (Job's wife), Curse God, & die
Pro.24:10 - [Giving up:] If thou faint in the day of adversity
Jer.15:18 - [Questioning:] Wilt Thou be unto me as a liar?
(See also Pro.18:14; Lam.3:39.)

10. God comforts & strengthens us when we suffer:

Exo.3:7 - I have seen the affliction of My people...heard their cry... I know their sorrows
Mat.5:4 - Blessed are they that mourn...they shall be comforted
Jn.14:18 - I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you
Rom.8:26 - The Spirit helpeth our infirmities
1Pet.5:10 - But God...after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you
(See also Psa.23:4; 37:24; 145:14.)

11. Deliverance from suffering:

A. The Lord promises to deliver us from our suffering:

Psa.30:5 - Weeping may endure a night, joy cometh in the morning
Psa.34:19 - Many are the afflictions...but the Lord delivereth
Psa.103:9-14 - He will not always chide...He knoweth our frame
Lam.3:31,32 - Lord will not cast off for ever: though He cause grief
Isa.54:7,8 - For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but...mercy
(See also Exo.3:7,9,10; Deut.26:6-8; Psa.66:11,12; 94:12-14; 107:11-14; 118:17,18.)

B. Pray for deliverance:

Psa.34:6 - Lord heard him, & saved him out of all his troubles
Psa.34:17 - The righteous cry, & the Lord...delivereth them out
Psa.50:15 - Call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee
(See specific examples in Ezra 9:5-15; Isa.38:1-3.)

C. God's conditions:

2Chr.6:27-30 - [Release from suffering if men repent & seek the Lord]
2Chr.7:13,14 - If My people...shall humble themselves, & pray, & turn from wicked ways; I will hear...forgive...heal
Job 33:27-29 - If any say, I have sinned...He will deliver his soul
Job 36:8-11 - If they obey & serve Him, they shall (have) prosperity
Jon.2:1-10 - [Jonah praised God in his trouble, & was delivered]

12. Your duty toward the suffering & afflicted:

Job 6:14 - To him that is afflicted pity should be showed
Job 16:5 - I would strengthen you...asswage your grief
Isa.50:4 - Speak a word in season to him that is weary
Lk.10:30-37 - [The good Samaritan] Go, & do thou likewise
Rom.12:15b - Weep with them that weep
1Cor.12:25,26 - Whether one member suffer, all...suffer with it
Gal.6:2 - Bear ye one another's burdens
Heb.13:3 - Remember them which suffer adversity
Jam.1:27 - Visit the fatherless & widows in their affliction
(See also Job 19:21; Mat.25:34-45; 1Tim.5:10.)

13. The suffering of the worldly wicked:

Or even of backslidden, disobedient Christians:

Deut.28:20 - The Lord shall send upon thee cursing...because of the wickedness of thy doings
Deut.28:15-67 - If thou wilt not hearken...these curses shall come...
Job 15:20a - The wicked man travaileth with pain all his days
Psa.32:10a - Many sorrows shall be to the wicked
Isa.42:24,25a - Neither were they obedient unto His law. Therefore He hath poured upon him the fury of His anger
Isa.57:20,21 - Wicked are like troubled sea...no peace to the wicked
Heb.2:15 - Who through fear of death were...subject to bondage
1Jn.4:18 - Fear hath torment
(See also Job 20:all; Eccl.2:22,23; Lam.3:42-47.)

14. Much of the world's suffering is often self -inflicted:

A. Drug abuse, alcoholism etc.:

1Cor.3:17 - If any man defile (his body), him shall God destroy
Pro.23:29-35 - [Alcoholism brings on woe, sorrow, wounds]
(See also Pro.23:21; 31:4,5; Isa.5:11; 28:7.)

B. Overeating:

Num.11:19,20, 31-34 - [Hebrews gluttonously overate quails & as a result, the fattest of them" died See Psa.78:26-31]
Phi.3:19a - Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly
(See also Pro.23:1-3,21a)

C. Overdoing physically gets body's resistance down:

Eccl.12:12b - Much study is a weariness of the flesh
Phi.2:27a,30 - He was (sick) nigh unto death, not regarding his life

D. Suffering because of sexual sins:

Rom.1:27 - [Sodomites]...receiving in themselves that recompense of their error [disease & infection]

E. Pollution by factories, pesticides, chemicals etc.:

Isa.24:5 - The earth is defiled under the inhabitants thereof
Jer.2:7 - Ye defiled My land, & made (it) an abomination
Amos 7:17b - Thou shalt die in a polluted land
Mic.2:10b - Because it is polluted, it shall destroy you
Zeph.3:1 - Woe to her that is filthy & polluted, to the oppressing city
Rom.1:30,32a - Inventors of evil things...worthy of death
Rev.11:18b - [God will] destroy them which destroy the earth
(See also Gen.4:8,16,17; Isa.5:8; 14:21 - re: unnatural cities & industrialisation)

F. Greed & oppression cause wars, suffering & misery:

Josh.7:1-26 - [Achan's covetousness caused many Israelites to die]
Pro.15:27 - He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house
Nah.3:1 - Woe to the bloody city! it is full of lies & robbery
1Tim.6:9,10 - They that will be rich...drown in destruction...sorrows
Jam.4:1,2 - From whence come wars?...even of your lusts...ye kill
Jam.5:1-6 - Rich men...ye have condemned & killed the just
(See also Psa.73:3-20; Mic.6:12-15.)

15. What suffering does for the unsaved or disobedient:

A. Some do not repent despite suffering & affliction:

Isa.1:5 - Why should ye be stricken any more? Ye will revolt
Isa.42:25 - Yet he knew not...yet he laid it not to heart
Isa.57:17 - I smote him...he went on in the way of his heart
Jer.2:30a - In vain have I smitten...they received no correction
Jer.5:3 - Thou hast stricken them, but they...refused to return
Dan.9:13 - All this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer
(See also Neh.9:26-29; Isa.9:13; Amos 4:6.)

B. Suffering causes the truly wicked to curse God even more:

2Chr.28:22 - In time of his distress did he trespass yet more
Pro.29:1 - He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, & that without remedy
Isa.8:21 - When they shall be hungry, shall curse...their God
Rev.16:9-11 - Men scorched with heat, blasphemed God, repented not
(See also Lev.26:23,24)

C. It causes some to repent & seek God:

Deut.31:17 - Many evils & troubles shall befall them [to make them realise they've forsaken God]
2Chr.15:4 - When they in their trouble...sought Him, He was found
Psa.78:34 - When He slew them, then they sought Him: & returned
Isa.26:16 - Poured out prayer when Thy chastening was upon them
Jer.2:27b - They have turned the back...but in the time of trouble

D. It even turns some unsaved or disobedient to God:

2Chr.33:9-13 - [Manasseh's suffering in prison turned him to God]
Job 34:31,32 - I have borne chastisement, I will not offend any more
Dan.4:30-37 - [King Nebuchadnezzar's abasement & salvation]
Lk.15:16-20 - [Suffering caused the prodigal son to repent]
Rev.11:13 - Earthquake (killed) 7,000...remnant gave glory to God
(See also Hos.2:6,7)

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Copyright (c) 1998 by The Family International

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James Arendt
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