Does God make us suffer to teach us?

For Christians, the question is, which kind of suffering--persecution for Jesus or the trials of living in the world?

The Bible tells us “…we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:3,4) The character building kind of suffering to which the New Testament refers the is not disease or other maladies that may result from poor diets, lack of exercise, selfishness, reckless driving, addictions and other versions of choosing our own way. Instead, it referred to persecution for being a Christian, which was prevalent throughout the Roman Empire (and in many parts of the world today). Christians were insulted, their property confiscated, they were imprisoned, flogged, tortured and executed.

Jesus said it would happen and none should be surprised since the world treated Him with contempt. This is the kind that should be embraced and rejoiced in because those who endure it will fellowship in Jesus’ sufferings and be rewarded in heaven. (Luke 6:22,23) Even so, Jesus didn’t submit to suffering until the time was right and Paul was always outrunning some murderous plot, God and the disciples often got him and Peter out. They didn’t look for trouble or automatically give in to it.

We get into problems when we confuse the two kinds of “suffering”. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33) Yes, we’ve have everyday troubles since Adam and Eve sinned, some of them horrible but these aren’t the ones to be happy about—they’re the ones to get rid of! Some of them we “earned” but we don’t have to “suffer the consequences”. You don’t have to carry them; Jesus already paid the price for our sins and sicknesses. Yes, physical ailments too!

Matt 8:17
16When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: "He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases." (emphasis added)

Father gives good gifts to His children who ask Him! (Matthew 7: 9-11) Many Christians have been duped into believing that their serious illnesses are a “blessing from God”. That kind of thinking fills cemeteries! Does God make the most of every situation? Absolutely! (Romans 8:28) Does God cause the suffering? No, the devil came to steal, kill and destroy but Jesus came to give us abundant life!

Western thinking has mixed Christianity with pagan Greek mythology, which has it that Pandora was, “given a gift of pain and sorrow for men from every Olympian god” as a punishment. (Redeeming Creation Van Dyke, et al. emphasis added) This kind of thinking paralyzes and keeps our time, attention, energy and resources focused on dealing with illnesses and other trials when we could be out doing the kinds of things for which we might be truly persecuted.

The Lord is willing to deliver you from your troubles—just ask! (Ps 34:19 righteous man may have many troubles,but the LORD delivers him from them all"

Here is a link for places to go for healing prayer:


Schmootzie said...

Sorry, can't buy it. Watching people suffer convinced me that there is no god. When religious people in my family were ill and everyone prayed, god didn't answer. They suffered horrifying deaths. When we needed help to save a child in need, god looked the other way.

When brave men and women rushed into a tower to save 2500 people trapped in firey smoke, god let that other plane hit the other tower and let both towers fall. The prayers of 3000 people, their families, and a nation went unanswered.

The worst part is, the terrorists did it to appease God. Go figure.

To me, I prayed. I asked for help, I asked for intervention. It never came. If there is a god I hate him for his shitty customer service record.

Since I stopped believing in some higher power and started solving my own problems things have been much better. I am in charge. God lets the kids starve, the poorest rot in the street. He makes our children stupid with religious lies and makes our nation weak as we clamour and fight over myth.

There is no God. The sooner we accept it and start treating each other well, maybe the world would change in a way Jesus Christ would be proud of.

jc said...

Schmootzie, I’m truly sorry for your losses. As Jesus said, “In this life you will have troubles.” It’s interesting that you and many others hold a perfect world as criteria for the existence of God. Adam and Eve had perfection in the Garden of Eden, no sorrow or sickness, no lack, yet they decided that God was somehow holding out on them—withholding something good. Things have been a mess ever since, yet God has always been there ready to help those who turn to Him.
God is not obligated to help those who don’t follow Him but out of compassion He often does. That’s why He sent His Son Jesus to people who didn’t necessarily care about Him. (Yes, He said He was/is the Son of God, “Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, `I am God's Son?” John 10:36) He created us for His pleasure (not the other way around) and He delights in having relationship with us through Jesus.
You seem to like Jesus and His teachings but if there’s no God, you have no Jesus. But you are right in that we need to follow Jesus more closely, to turn away from laziness, self-centeredness and other forms of evil. My purpose in this blog is to call Christians to live what we say we believe and quit being confused by the culture.
It’s very true that when people follow Jesus, things improve. In this century there are many entire communities throughout the world that have been transformed—overall crime has dropped, drug trafficking stopped, abuse stopped, poverty greatly lessened and the environment restored when people turn from self-centeredness and follow Jesus.
Also, many of Jesus’ followers have throughout the centuries, and to this day continue to give their entire lives to feeding starving kids and caring for the poor, remember Mother Teresa? However, most of the time the news media doesn’t report it. Are you feeding starving kids?
God isn’t interested in religion; He’s looking for relationship. I know it sounds cliché’ but I know God exists because I have close communion with Him. I’ve seen Him heal many times and arrange things that wouldn’t otherwise have happened. Once, when due to a sudden illness, I no longer breathed or had a pulse (as one doctor later said, “You mean you ‘coded’?). My husband didn’t give up or blame God but called out, “Be alive in Jesus’ name!” and I was!
God wants faith and persistence. And yes, sometimes people still die. And sometimes they’re raised from the dead. And sometimes they’re not. I don’t yet know all the reasons but I do know that the prayer of faith is complex yet childlike. People tend to give up much too easily.
As for “September 11”, many, many more were rescued and still more for one reason or another didn’t go to work that day. Why one and not another? The individual stories are as varied as the people. And the terrorists? They attacked the U.S. in the name of a false god not the One True God.
Have you ever truly given your life over to God through His Son, Jesus Christ by turning from your own way? He would love to make a difference in your life, bear your burdens, answer your prayers, take away your pain and loneliness and empower you to make a difference. Even then, the world won’t be perfect—that’s Heaven, but it will be far better as you and each of us follow Jesus closely.