Understanding Christian Suffering – the 4 Js

For many people the existence of suffering rules out the existence of the God of the bible. If God is good and all powerful then he would stop all the suffering and, therefore, as suffeirng exists, the God of the bible cannot exist. It is argued that God is either non-existent, weak or cruel.  The bible denies all these options and teaches that God is good and all powerful and that suffering exists under the control of God’s power and for good reasons.

Suffering is part of life but not all suffering is for the same reason. All people suffer, the question is why and what for? There are 4 Js in the bible which help us see the variety of reasons for the suffering of God’s people: Joseph, Job, Jonah and Jesus. What follows is a very brief summary of their suffering and how a Christian believer must reckon with suffering.

The 4Js

Joseph suffers innocently, by being sold as a slave and sent to prison, not for his own good but for the good of his family’s salvation.

Job suffers innocently at the hands of Satan & though it learns that God is very big, very powerful and is his redeemer.

Jonah suffers because he rebels against God’s will and is disciplined by God for his good. Jonah’s suffering shows us that God is more concerned with our godliness and obedience to his will than with our comfort and happiness.

Understanding Jesus’ suffering.

The eternal Son of God becomes human and suffers with us (John 11:35).

Jesus suffered innocently for the good of his family’s salvation (Matthew 20:28)

Jesus suffered innocently at the hands of Satan and through this God showed us that he is very big, very powerful & is the redeemer (Acts 2:23-24)

Jesus learned obedience to God the Father through his suffering (Hebrews 5:8)

With the four Js in mind and the reasons for their suffering the Christian believer must think to herself what God’s reasons might be for her suffering.  The answer will always be provisional but the exercise is also always benefitial.  Can I see any good for others resulting from my suffering, most importantly their salvation in Christ?  Have I been humbled by the size and power of God and am I clinging to Christ as my redeemer?  Is God teaching me anything about his will for my life, am I being transformed in my heart, soul, mind or will to live for God’s glory?  As we ask these questions, we might get a glimpse of one or two reasons for our suffering.  one day we shall see in full, even as we are fully known (1 Cor 13:12).

About neilrobbie

I am a 6'6" formerly ginger Scot, in a cross cultural marriage to my lovely Londoner wife. We've lived in SE Asia and since 2005, I have served as an Anglican minister in Wolverhampton and West Bromwich.
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2 Responses to Understanding Christian Suffering – the 4 Js

  1. Is suffering really a “part of life” and does it really come from God? I want to ask if this is the original purpose God had for mankind? When He created Adam and Eve He gave them the opportunity to live in a wonderful garden filled with everything the needed to live forever. God gave them two commands to multiply and to cultivate the earth (or to extend the paradise over the entire earth) Do you agree? God also gave them only one law, not to eat from one tree. But Eve was deceived by Satan and made the tree desirable to her eyes and believed she could be like God in deciding for herself what was good and bad. So she ate, and Adam ate both knowing the upon eating they would surely die. But the first lie recorded was Satan’s reply “You positively will not die!” So because Satan enticed the first humans to sin against God they were put out of the garden and told they would live off the land and have hardships in life instead of living forever in paradise. So was it God who brought sin and death and suffering to mankind or was it Satan through Adam and Eve? Many of the problems that cause suffering and injustice man has endured are caused by greed for power and wealth. But man lives in a world under the rule of Satan because he is the God of this world. This all from the Bible. Yet so many people do not use the Bible to explain why man suffers. Do you think this is a valid explanation of why man suffers? Or do you consider what happened in the garden to be just a story?
    I Thank you for listening.

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