5 Questions About Suffering Answered

What the Bible Says About Suffering

At some point in our lives, we are affected by tragedy​—perhaps an accident, an illness, a natural disaster, or an act of violence.

People look for answers.

  • Some ascribe suffering to fate or in some other way feel that we have little control over what happens to us.
  • Others believe in karma; attribute the suffering to something bad that we did in a past life.

Oftentimes, tragedy leaves people with more questions such as:

  1. Is God to blame for our sufferings?
  2. Are we to blame for our own suffering?
  3. Why do good people suffer?
  4. Were we meant to suffer?
  5. Will suffering ever end?

Is God to blame for our sufferings?

The bible says, that God does not cause our suffering because the Almighty does not pervert justice as noted in the book of Job 34:12 and in Deuteronomy 32:4 “All of God’s ways are justice, he is righteous and upright”.

Suppose a father raises his children and provides well for them. Later, one son rebels, moves out of the home, and chooses a self-destructive lifestyle. Would the father be responsible for his son’s conduct? Could the son blame his father for negative consequences that he experiences?  In a similar way, we cannot blame God for our suffering.

Are we to blame for our own suffering?

Think about to what extent are human responsible for the following causes of suffering?

ABUSE – The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1 out of 4 adults suffered physical abuse at some point during childhood and that 1 out of 3 women experience physical or sexual assault (or both) at some point in their life.

BEREAVEMENT – An estimated 477,000 murders occurred globally in 2016,” states the World Health Statistics 2018, published by WHO. This is in addition to the 180,000 people thought to have been killed in wars and conflicts that year.

HEALTH PROBLEMS – In an article published in the National Geographic magazine, writer Fran Smith notes: “More than a billion people smoke, and tobacco is implicated in the top five causes of death: heart disease, stroke, respiratory infections, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and lung cancer.”

SOCIAL INEQUALITY – “Poverty, relative inequality, being subject to racism, sexism, displacement and a competitive culture all increase the likelihood of mental suffering,” comments psychologist Jay Watts.

In Ecclesiastes 8:9 it says that “Man has dominated man to his harm”.

Suffering can be reduced.

Bible principles promote better health and peaceful relationships with others.

“A calm heart gives life to the body, but jealousy is rottenness to the bones.”​PROVERBS 14:30.

“Put away from yourselves every kind of malicious bitterness, anger, wrath, screaming, and abusive speech, as well as everything injurious.”​EPHESIANS 4:31.

Why do good people suffer?

What the Bible Says

Suffering is not punishment from God.

On the contrary, much of it is random​—often, a matter of someone being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“The swift do not always win the race, nor do the mighty win the battle, nor do the wise always have the food, nor do the intelligent always have the riches, nor do those with knowledge always have success, because time and unexpected events overtake them all.”​ECCLESIASTES 9:11.

Our sinful nature contributes to suffering.

People often use the word “sin” to refer to a bad act that someone commits. However, the Bible also uses it to describe a condition that all humans​—good and bad—​have inherited.

“I was born guilty of error, and sinful from the moment my mother conceived me.”​PSALM 51:5, Footnote.

Sin has had a devastating effect on humans.

It has not only damaged our relationship with our Creator but also put us out of harmony with the rest of God’s creation. That has resulted in enormous suffering, both to individuals and to the human race as a whole.

“When I wish to do what is right, what is bad is present with me.”​ROMANS 7:21.

“All creation keeps on groaning together and being in pain together.”​ROMANS 8:22.

Were We Meant to Suffer?

What the Bible Says:

God did not create us to suffer.

He wants us to enjoy life.

“There is nothing better for [people] than to rejoice and to do good during their life, also that everyone should eat and drink and find enjoyment for all his hard work. It is the gift of God.”​ECCLESIASTES 3:12, 13.

God gave the first two humans a perfect start.

He did not mean for them​—or their descendants—​to suffer.

“God said to them: ‘Be fruitful and become many, fill the earth and subdue it.’”​GENESIS 1:28.

The first two humans chose independence from God.

As a result, they brought much suffering on themselves and all their descendants.

“Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because they had all sinned.”​ROMANS 5:12. *

God did not create us to live independent of his guidance.

We were no more created to rule ourselves than to live under water.

“It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.”​JEREMIAH 10:23.

God does not want us to suffer.

He wants us to live in a way that, to the extent possible, we avoid problems.

“If only you would pay attention to my commandments! Then your peace would become just like a river.”​ISAIAH 48:18.

Will Suffering Ever End?

What the Bible Says

God cares about us.

He is not indifferent to our pain and sorrow.

“[God] has not despised nor loathed the suffering of the oppressed one; he has not hidden his face from him. When he cried to him for help, he heard.”​PSALM 22:24.

“Throw all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.”​1 PETER 5:7.

Suffering will not continue indefinitely.

The Bible promises that God’s purpose for us will be realized.

“God . . . will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.”​REVELATION 21:3, 4.

God will address the causes of human suffering.

He will do this by means of his Kingdom, which the Bible describes as a real government.

“The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed. And this kingdom will not be passed on to any other people. . . . It alone will stand forever.”​DANIEL 2:44.

Yes, but not by human efforts. Man’s governments can only address the symptoms of our suffering, but God can address the causes. By means of his Kingdom, he will do so.

For more information, please visit www. Jw.org

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