Why do we suffer?

Published 10:32 pm Friday, September 30, 2016

Everybody hurts. Everyone aches. Whether by way of disease or old age, pain catches all and sundry. We all suffer.

If the bite of suffering lingers in trapping anyone personally, it captures those we love, and we witness its bite. Nothing is more common to the human experience than suffering.

But why do we suffer?

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How you answer that question is the surest way to discover what you really believe in your heart about the true nature of human existence.

The best argument against belief in God is the existence of suffering. The great agnostic of the 19th century, Robert G. Ingersoll, quipped, “I cannot see why we should expect an infinite God to do better in another world than he does in this.”

Ingersoll, as with modern activist atheists like Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins, commits the philosophical error of faulty premise when approaching the problem of pain and suffering.

At the outset they assume that if there is a God then He is somehow culpable for pain and responsible to humanity. They assume God owes us an explanation.

Set the Bible or any other religious text aside for a moment. Just consider logic and common sense. If there is a creative being in the universe that is responsible for my very existence, what logical right do I have to demand an explanation of my estate from Him?

If I owe my very existence to Him, does He not have the inherent right to define the nature of that existence?

Is the one who gives me breath obligated to defend the manner in which He does so? As for the Bible, Job chapters 38-41 contain that message. God says to Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.” (Job 38:4 ESV)

What’s more, time and again the Bible gives us the message that God has purpose in our pain.

The Bible teaches that suffering is redemptive; that God uses pain as a means of shaping, strengthening and saving. Pain is the greatest gift God gives, because through the stark backdrop of pain we see the beauty of God’s love in Christ shining all the more radiantly.

Suffering cuts at our pride. Adversity begs us to run to the redeemer. Pain is love’s perfume.

When we suffer, we are aware of our need for a healer. When we endure trial and hardship, we are aware that we cannot solve our biggest problems on our own.

Why do we suffer? We suffer because God is more concerned with our knowing Him forever than our knowing comfort today.

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” (1 Peter 2:21 ESV) Everybody hurts. Everyone aches. God is calling everyone through the megaphone of pain to recognize their need for healing and run to the redeemer.

Chris Surber is the pastor at Liberty Spring Christian Church in Suffolk. Email him at chris@chrissurber.com. Thurman Hayes’ column will return soon.