Lessons From Joseph
Egyptian wall painting showing workers with baskets and donkey Photo: © Fotolia.com
A. THE WORLD’S VIEW OF SUFFERING
The world views suffering as either the result of something you have done and so you deserve it or just your bad luck, or your karma - fate. "What’s for you’ll not go by you." Suffering is also viewed by some people as evidence that God doesn’t exist. eg "I can’t believe in a God who’d let two year old weans die of leukaemia.”
B. A BIBLICAL VIEW OF SUFFERING & LOSS
The Bible views suffering as having several possible causes -
(1) NATURAL EVIL: The Result Of Living In A Fallen World as a result of Adam & Eve’s rebellion.
Jesus describes satan as “the Ruler of this world” JOHN 14:30; 16:11. Ever since Adam and Eve’s disobedience, limited authority over this world passed to satan and his angels, although God is still in overall control. Much of the chaos and suffering in the world is a result of this situation. We also suffer the effects of death through the pain of bereavement.
(2) MORAL EVIL
(a) sin committed by me against others
I can suffer the painful consequences of my own sin committed against God’s laws and against others. For example, if I drive a car under the influence of alcohol, I may kill myself or others and go to prison. If I break God’s laws regarding sexual behaviour, I may suffer the consequences by contracting a sexually transmitted disease;etc.
(b) sin committed against me by others
At the individual level suffering can also be the result of others’ sin against me - for example, bullying, physical or sexual abuse, discrimination, etc. Much of the suffering throughout the world is the result of man’s inhumanity to man. This includes famines and other large-scale suffering caused by wars and political decisions taken by dictators or ungodly regimes.
(3) SATANIC EVIL
The Bible is clear that suffering is, either directly or indirectly, the result of the activities of supernatural forces opposed to God and his kingdom and organised by the Adversary - satan.
(4) SUFFERING AS PART OF GOD’S DISCIPLINE & TRAINING
The Bible also sees some suffering as God’s way of disciplining His children to develop their faith and perseverance.