Here is the genesis of our suffering:
“Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children;…. cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” ( Gen 3:16-19).
Consequently, as we live on earth, every earthly paradise is riddled with a serpent. Do not forget that the goal of the devil is to steal, to kill and to destroy while Christ comes to give abundant life (Jn10:10). Since the devil is the Prince of this world (Jn12:5) those who worship him have consciously decided to embrace his characteristics. The world and its gifts will pass away but those who believe in Christ even though they die they shall rise again (Jn 5:25). So, why then do even the Christian suffer?
To proceed it will suffice I define sin. A) “And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Rom 14:23). B) “Therefore, to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). C) “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (I Jn 3:4) D) “All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death” (I Jn 5:17). Sin is missing the mark.
In the Bible we have seen that even those God has selected will suffer. Both the wicked like the righteous do suffer. However, why do good people suffer when suffering supposed to be for bad people since it was a payback for committing evil. The simple answer to the question does suffering come because of sin will be yes. Yes in that without the fall of man sin would not have entered into the world and without sin suffering would not have entered the world. No matter how we try to be righteous, there is a certain amount of sin living in us and “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Gal 5:9).
The only difference is that the suffering of the righteous is amortized in Christ Jesus because he gives peace unlike what the world does. Naturally there is suffering in the world and that is why like folktales say that a child cries when it is born. Because of the original sin (original and inherited) man has acquired a sinful nature that is suffering oriented. Then due to his progressive nature he then engages into acts that invite or add to his suffering. That means, once you are born, you do not need t do anything you will suffer. The effects of suffering from one person to another vary from one level to another. Suffering is more than just lack but also restlessness and void of internal peace. A barren or sterile woman and an impotent man are suffering. They hurt to have a child. If a man divorces and experiences a heart break that is suffering. If you sweat to eat, have worries then you are suffering because suffering is affliction. There are also two groups of sufferers: those who suffer because of original sin and those who suffer because of their progressive sins. For example, Britney Spears, Marion Jones, Blackwater, Sadam Hussein, Bokassa, Lee Boyd Malvo, and others are suffering because of the things they did. You and I know the things we did that landed us heartache.
Another glaring example is that of Jonah. Disobedience to God could cause us suffering. Jonah disobeyed God by refusing to go to Niniveh and preach because he did not want them to be forgiven. God sent a fish that swallowed him and vomited him in Niniveh at last. Some of the things we are doing are the ones causing us suffering.
Meanwhile there are those who suffer because suffering is already in the world. These are the people that usually find it unfair. These are the people we ask why does God do nothing. Why did God allow it to happen to this and that? For example: why did Ishmael have to go through all of that? Things he knew nothing? Why did the children of Israel have to go a 40 day journey for 40 years? It is true it was to eliminate the rebellious ones but the newly born were bearing the brunt of the consequence they knew nothing. Gideon was wondering if God was with them. Why were they then suffering? This is due to the federal head theory. When an act has been punished for a given time everybody born with that time will go through but then they will have a special grace to support it while those who are really responsible for it will die. That is why during the wilderness journey the sinners died and those who were innocent survived. That is why Gideon was given the grace to overcome the Midianites (Jud 6:12).
One of the reasons why good people suffer is because everything has its own time: “A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Eccl 3:3-4). Wisdom to travel a difficult earth comes with the number of trials we face. That is why you see some people from some of the renown schools acting stupid because they were golden spoon fed. They need to enroll in the school of suffering to garner that experience that will make them wise. That is what Jesus told the people who asked him why the man was born blind (Jn 9:3). Paul concurs with them that the righteous may suffer so they can develop good character (2 Cor 12:8-9).
God may allow the righteous to suffer not because of sin but because He wants to erase the memory of their sin like was the case of David. When he committed adultery with Beersheba (2 Sam 12:9) God struck the child with sickness and she later died during which David was suffering in his heart for his family. That is why in most cases people who benefited finally crookedly before coming to the Lord they usually end up loosing it. But because David was active in committing his sin and crime God rewarded Him with war and instability in his kingdom (2 Sam 8-19).
However, know that suffering initially entered into the world through the fall of man and suffering permeates the world through our progressive sins. Nonetheless, where we are not responsible God has our interest at heart. Whether you suffer because of your sins or where you find yourself, know that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28).
Until then, though we suffer now God will wipe out our sorrow on the Last Day.
Prince & PA Hamilton