Why is there suffering? That is the question we all want an answer to, and people have been asking this since the beginning of time. Even in the Bible people were asking these types of questions.
John 9:1-3 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. (2) And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? (3) Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
I remember in the aftermath of 9/11 how Jerry Farwell and Pat Robertson saw these events as judgement on America for its sins. And the public backlash against these statements. If I am asked why this happened, I would have to say “I don’t know.” What is just as amazing to me is that many reject out of hand that it could have been judgement, that it is a possibility. Here we see the disciples questioning Jesus on the cause of this man’s blindness. I cannot imagine the parents anguish at the realization of their son being born blind. Realizing the hardships he was going to have to face. They had reach their conclusion: which one was it Jesus. The parents sin or the son sin. The answer: neither. It was to show the glory of God.
This was the same mistake Job’s friends made in assuming his great suffering was caused by his great sin. We may never know why. There are several reasons that may be the cause of suffering:
- We live in a fallen world. This world groans under the judgement of the curse and therefore it rains on the just and the unjust (ie. 9/11, Haiti Earthquake, Katrina, killer tornadoes, etc.) In these cases the ultimate “why” may not be known to us this side of Glory.
- Sin. This does bring God’s judgment to us and or nation, otherwise why would the Bible tell us that “if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.
- Bad choices. If we choose to drink, and liver disease results, we are suffering bad choices. The same with a diabetic who eats chocolates, the smoker who suffers from COPD, emphysema, lung cancer, etc. We are suffering physically do to what we chose. In these cases we can end the suffering by stopping the bad habit before it is too late. Praying to God for healing and deliverance while not being willing to stop the bad choices and sin are on a fools errand.
- Good choices. We cannot seem to win for losing. If we make bad choices we suffer, if we make good choices we suffer? That is right. Those who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution).
So since no matter what happens we are going to suffer in one way or another. Sometimes we know why and can take steps to correct it. Sometimes we will not know why, but in either case we need to know what to do with it. This is where 1 Peter comes in, it does not deal with the question of why but what. That is what of suffering: What does God want me to learn from this? What does God want me to do as a result of this? What characteristics does God want me to display in the light of suffering?