Considering Faith or Unbelief?
SOME OF OUR VISITORS MAY BE, OR MAY HAVE FRIENDS, DEALING WITH THE QUESTION OF GOD’S EXISTENCE, THE CREATION OF THE EARTH AND WORLD AND FAITH IN GENERAL. SOME MAY BE WRESTLING WITH LIMITED INFORMATION REGARDING GOD AND EVOLUTION. IF SO, BE IN TOUCH FOR SOME WONDERFUL, PRACTICAL WRITTEN MATERIAL. LEAVE A REQUEST FOR SUCH INFORMATION ON OUR GUESTBOOK PAGE OR WRITE US at our contact address of
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Phone: (334) 272-8558
IN THE MEANTIME…..SOMETIMES, INDIVIDUALS HAVE PRESENTED THE ‘PROBLEM OF SUFFERING’ AS AN ‘EVIDENCE’ THAT GOD DOES NOT EXIST DUE TO HIS ‘INABILITY’ TO CEASE THE SUFFERING ON THE ONE HAND OR HIS ‘NON-COMPASSION’ TO RELIEVE THE SUFFERING ON THE OTHER HAND. Our friend, Gary McDade of the Getwell church of Christ in Memphis has written an article Re: Suffering. We now share this with you (His articles are available at the getwell church of christ website).
THE CHRISTIAN’S VIEW OF SUFFERING
The schools of experience and observation teach that suffering knows no social, economic, political, or religious boundaries. Every stratum of society, religious or otherwise, is affected by its sorrows. Even the Son of Man was not exempt from the grasp of suffering’s chilling fingers. However, Christ’s suffering was not without purpose: “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Heb. 2:10). Neither was his suffering without reward: “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:8-11).
The faithful Christian who is dedicated to God’s worship and service may be called upon to suffer but, like Christ, not without purpose or reward. Peter affirmed, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (I Pet. 1:7). The Christian’s faith may be put to the test by means of suffering, and through the sorrow of suffering the Christian may glorify God: “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf” (I Pet. 4:16).
Perhaps one of the greatest comforts to be emphasized is that suffering is not a permanent state: “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while [a little while, ASV], make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you” (I Pet. 5:10). Many have emerged from the anguish of suffering more mature, better grounded in the faith than before, stronger, and even more confident of the Lord’s love and care. Suffering is sad and serious, but the enormity of the sufferer’s reward is compensation enough and more! Paul, who had experienced considerable suffering, wrote by the inspiration of God, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18).
Suffering is unwanted and uninvited, yet it comes and in a variety of forms. Paul provided a partial list from his labors for Christ: “Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches” (II Cor. 11:23-28).
Perhaps the Christian may never identify more closely with Christ than when suffering. Jesus said, “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord” (Matt. 10:24). Still the Lord taught and his disciples to unhesitatingly pray, “Deliver us from evil” (Matt. 6:13). The apostles taught Christians to pray “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour” (I Tim. 2:2-3). Additionally, they admonished, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (I Pet. 5:7).
It has been said that sometimes the eyes are washed with tears through suffering so they clearly can see the land of endless day where all such former things are forever passed away. The disciple whom Jesus loved wrote, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Rev. 21:4).
Questions for Discussion
1. What is the reason for the Christian’s view of suffering being different from anyone else’s?
2. What alternative view of suffering does the atheist, who argues that the existence of suffering in the
world stands against belief in God, offer for the sufferer’s relief?
3. Name half a dozen benefits derived from suffering.
4. How does suffering “make you perfect”?
5. How does suffering “stablish” or “establish,” ASV, you?
6. How does suffering “settle you”?
7. Discuss the point of view offered in the suggestion relative to suffering that instead of asking, “Why
me?” perhaps the more insightful question, “Why not me?” should be explored.
8. Discuss the quality of humility as connected with the ability to graciously suffer.
THANKS, GARY, VERY MUCH. WE WILL CONSIDER THIS INFORMATIVE ARTICLE. TO YOU, OUR WEBSITE VISITOR, PLEASE CONTACT US BY THE GUESTBOOK OR AT THE tsfbs2 site in the juno system.