The Purpose of Suffering

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The Purpose of Suffering

[Posted February 6, 2020]
[Updated December 30, 2020]

Hi M​____​,

Thank you for your question. It is one which I, too, have struggled to understand, but over the years I have come to see that it is my self-righteous carnal mind which simply cannot accept the fact that God’s love is superior to what my carnal mind calls love. My carnal mind tells me that suffering has nothing to do with ‘love’. However, as any parent knows, suffering has a lot to do both with being a good parent and with the true Biblical “love of God” as our own spiritual ‘parent’:

Heb 12:6  For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
Heb 12:7  If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

My carnal mind tells me there is a big difference between a parent lovingly chastening his son and all the seemingly needless suffering of so many innocent children, the elderly, and so many victims of what appears to us to be needless violence. The hardest thing for me to accept is the torture and abuse of innocent children. The long drawn out suffering of adults who are simply standing on their Babylonian faith, and the suffering of the elderly, as well as the life-long suffering of so many afflicted people, just all seems so unnecessary to me as a natural man.

My flesh tells me in no uncertain terms that if I were God I would have come up with a much more humane and merciful way of saving all men. As ‘God’ I would just make every man alive and full of love and humility, and respect for his fellow man, and I would simply have perfected everyone in a spirit body to begin with. I would have just left off this messy, bloody thing called “the cross” with all of its unnecessary suffering.

With all of those thoughts, and without the Lord’s mercy, I would have been overwhelmed with resentment toward the Lord for not doing His work my way and not being more loving and more merciful toward His creatures. However, through His mercy, I have been made to see and to accept the absolute Truth that I am not God, and therefore I do not know better than God what is the best way for Him to work with His own creation.

When I was thirteen years old I remember my Father telling all six of his children that the Bible was the Word of God, and that the answers to all of our questions were in the Bible. God gave me at that tender age to believe what my father was teaching me. His father, my grandfather had told him the very same thing, and while neither of them were given eyes to see nor ears to hear the things of the spirit (Mat 13:9-15), they both were given great faith in the letter of the Lord’s words.

So all I have to offer anyone is what I have been given faith in the Word of God to believe and to understand about any question I am asked. I cannot bequeath to you faith in the Word of God. Faith in God and in His Word is a gift from Him to those to whom He chooses to give it in this age:

Eph 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselvesit is the gift of God:
Eph 2:9  Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Eph 2:10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Although I was given a deep regard for the Bible from my youth, like all of us, I “forsook [my] first love” (Rev 2:4) and had to be chastened and scourged and crushed to powder to be brought back to a much deeper respect for the Lord’s voice, and a much deeper understanding of who the Lord is, the necessity of all of my own suffering, and a much deeper understanding of what His love is. I am now very grateful for all the suffering I endured because it brought me to overcome ungodliness in my own life in this present age.

Tit 2:11  For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
Tit 2:12  Teaching [Greek: (G3811) paideuochastening] us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

As an aside, the revelation that “the grace of God… chastens us” is just one more Biblical refutation of the two false doctrines of a ten-second sinner’s prayer and a substitutionary atonement in which Christ died for us so we don’t need to die. Both of those doctrines have robbed many people of the Truths of the Words of God which teach that “grace… chastens us” and that we must “die daily… be crucified with Christ… and suffer with Him” if we want to reign with Him:

1Co 15:31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.

Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Rom  8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

2Ti 2:12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:

I was granted the faith to discover that knowing the Lord was the very definition of eternal life:

Joh 17:3  And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

My father was a very strict religious Pentecostal who required the whole family to listen to Him read a chapter of scripture every morning and every night. As a child I cannot tell you how much I resented coming in late at night after putting up hay all day long, eating dinner and then having to listen to my father read a chapter of scripture. I always went to sleep, but at the same time the Lord permitted my father to instill a deep respect for God’s word. He told us over and over with his little Babylonian faith, “Whenever it seems that the Bible is contradicting itself, the problem is your lack of understanding. There are no contradictions in the word of God.”

Those words stuck with me and were used by the Lord to get me past my struggles with all the suffering we see in the Lord’s creation.

The Lord has granted me to accept the fact that the suffering of this age, as painful as it is to experience and to contemplate all the pain felt by others of all ages and circumstances, is all a temporal experience which He has designed as an evil foil against which He is in the process of displaying His love for all men of all time.

1Co 15:22  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

This is a verse of scripture which tells us up front what the Lord is in the process of doing:

Ecc 1:13 I applied my heart to inquiring and exploring by wisdom concerning all that is done under the heavens: it is an experience of evil Elohim has given to the sons of humanity to humble them by it(CLV)

“To humble them by it” tells us that we have been given over to pride by the Lord’s design. One of the functions of the very evils you and I are discussing is the suffering which the Lord has placed upon “the whole creation”.

Rom 8:22  For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 

In the Lord’s own time, the Lord will drag all mankind to bow in desperation to the feet of His elect, who, typified by Joseph, will administer judgment upon all His brothers and will drag all men to Himself:

Joh 12:32  And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw [G1670: helkuo, drag] all men unto me.

Rev 3:9  Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

The Greek word translated as “draw” in this verse in John 12 is helkuo, and here is how Strong’s correctly defines the meaning of this Greek word:

Going back to what the Lord tells us in Ecclesiastes 1:13, we must acknowledge that the way He is dragging us to Himself is through “an experience of evil to humble [us] by it”.

1Pe 5:6  Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
1Pe 5:7  Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
1Pe 5:8  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
1Pe 5:9  Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
1Pe 5:10  But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
1Pe 5:11  To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Returning to your question concerning how you are to deal with “the same affliction of your brothers [who] are in this world”, the Lord Himself has left us the perfect example “that [we] should follow His steps”:

1Pe 2:21  For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.

After being beaten so severely that He died before the other two men who were being crucified with Him, Christ spoke these words of comfort to one of those men:

Luk 23:39  And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.
Luk 23:40  But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
Luk 23:41  And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
Luk 23:42  And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
Luk 23:43  And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

The fact is that both of the thieves with whom the Lord was crucified will be brought up in the great white throne judgment to be purified with the same fiery words which are purifying us in this age. However, these men were not being dragged to Christ even though one of them was granted to know who Christ was. He still had not been given the holy spirit because the spirit was not yet given.

Joh 7:37  In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
Joh 7:38  He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
Joh 7:39  (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

We are to count ourselves as being on the cross with Christ:

Rom 6:3  Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Rom 6:4  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Rom 6:5  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
Rom 6:6  Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

“Is crucified” is in the Greek aorist tense, which means that this is not just a past event, but our dying is a “daily dying [and] being crucified with Christ” ongoing experience. In us Christ continues to be crucified daily. Here is how Paul put it:

1Co 15:31  I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.

Gal 2:20  I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

The Lord is our example. As we interact with the whole creation with whom we are suffering in this age, we must follow Christ’s example and speak words of comfort to them. Christ did not attempt to explain to the thief that the thief would die and sleep in the dust of the earth for the thousands of years between his death and the great white throne judgment which follows the thousand-year reign. He simply spoke very comforting words: “you will be with me in paradise”.

Crucifixion is an excruciating way to die, but our Lord endured His own crucifixion to bring life to all men:

Joh 12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw [Greek: helkuō, drag] all men unto me.

Eternal torment in everlasting flames of literal fire has no basis in scripture. “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” is the doctrine of Jesus Christ concerning His plan for all of suffering mankind.

There is no truth to the false doctrine of a ten-second sinner’s prayer or the substitutionary atonement through the death of Christ. Rather, this is the Truth of how we must enter into the kingdom of God:

Mat 10:21  And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.
Mat 10:22  And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

Mat 24:12  And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
Mat 24:13  But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

Mark repeats this straight-forward refutation of the false doctrine of a ten-second sinner’s prayer:

Mar 13:13  And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

The preceding verses in both Matthew and Mark warn us against believing the words of “many… false prophets… coming in Christ’s name” (Mat 24:11 and Mar 13:6). Those false prophets invariably tell you that God does not make men wicked, does not create evil, and certainly does not make us “to err from [His] ways”, and does not intend for us to suffer. However, what does God Himself say?

Pro 16:4  The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.

Isa 45:7  I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

Isa 63:17  O LORD, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear? Return for thy servants’ sake, the tribes of thine inheritance.

Act 14:22  Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

In that way they attempt to shift the responsibility for all the evil in this world from God’s very wise and sovereign will over onto the weak shoulders of His poor, marred, struggling creatures. If indeed Christ is beginning to grow within you, then you will know that is not the voice of the True Shepherd, and you will hear His voice in His own scriptures:

Joh 10:4  And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
Joh 10:5  And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

“His voice” teaches us that all the suffering in the world is the fruit, not of our free will choices to do evil, but rather it is all the result of the “dying… experience of evil [which] the Lord has given mankind to humble him by it”:

Gen 2:17  and of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou dost not eat of it, for in the day of thine eating of it–dying thou dost die.’ (YLT)

Ecc 1:13 I applied my heart to inquiring and exploring by wisdom concerning all that is done under the heavens: it is an experience of evil Elohim has given to the sons of humanity to humble them by it.

God is in the process of creating mankind in His own image. We must “enter into His rest” (Heb 4:1-4) on the seventh day before that plan will be completed.

In the meantime, He has given mankind an experience of evil to humble us and to make us to appreciate the fact that, although He has given us an experience of evil, He has also devised means that His banished be not expelled from Him:

2Sa 14:14  For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God respect any person: yet doth he devise means, that his banished be not expelled from him.

If indeed all the suffering God has placed upon mankind did not eventuate in the salvation of all mankind, then the Lord would indeed be the evil monster which the eternal hell-fire ministers of “historical Christianity” proclaim Him to be. God really has “devised means that His banished be not expelled from Him and “all in Adam… shall be made alive”:

1Co 15:22  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

The wonderful news is that this will all be accomplished through you if you are given to believe on Him and suffer with Him:

Rom 11:30  For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:
Rom 11:31  Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.
Rom 11:32  For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

Paul summarized the purpose for all the suffering we see around us and all the suffering we endure in these words:

2Co 4:6  For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
2Co 4:7  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
2Co 4:8  We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
2Co 4:9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
2Co 4:10  Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
2Co 4:11  For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
2Co 4:12  So then death worketh in us, but life in you.
2Co 4:13  We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;
2Co 4:14  Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.
2Co 4:15  For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.
2Co 4:16  For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
2Co 4:17  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
2Co 4:18  While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

I pray these verses help you to cope with all the suffering you see which the Lord is working within us and all around us as the foil against which He is wisely in the process of displaying His great mercy upon all men of all time.

Your brother in the Christ, Mike

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