May 13, 2020

Sources of Suffering – Part 1

By Rev. Jeremiah Cheung

Suffering is a mystery. We cannot explain it with a formula or with a reason. Today, the world is faced with the COVID-19 crisis, many people have already died and many people have fallen ill. How can we explain this and how are we to face this?

From the Bible, we know that suffering comes from at least eight sources. We talk about the first four sources this week:

1. Suffering is a result of sin and punishment

This is the most common explanation and also the most straightforward explanation. There is suffering because we have sinned. God is a just God, so He must judge sin, therefore suffering happens. This is exactly the view held by Job’s three friends and it is also a belief held by many Christians. This viewpoint can be called retribution and it is also what we call the law of cause and effect. But this single explanation for suffering creates problems and brings on many unfair situations. True, suffering comes as a result of sin’s punishment; however, we cannot simply stop here.

2. Suffering is a type of wake-up call

Suffering is often related to sin. Many forms of suffering come from sin. This is an iron-clad fact that we cannot deny. Yet we must understand that not every suffering is due to sin, although many sufferings are inseparable from sin. Do not be deceived, sin is like fire. No one plays with fire without getting burned by it. After Jacob wrestled with God, he became lame. From that point on, he had to walk with a limp. Is that not the biggest reminder for him — Jacob, will you still rely on yourself? Will you still dare to be casual and careless?

3. Suffering is a form of discipline

Suffering refines us; it makes us more mature and enables us to bear greater responsibility. The Chinese have this old saying – “Before entrusting man with a great responsibility, heaven refines him first.” To whom does the term “heaven” refer in this saying? The Chinese do not know, but we know that it is God who created the heavens. God may allow suffering to come upon a person because God desires to mold him and prepare him to bear heavier responsibilities. Isn’t the Lord’s sending of Moses into his 40-year exile in the wilderness the best proof of this?

4. Suffering is a test

Refining forges a person’s capabilities, but a test is a warning, a wake-up call. Job is the best illustration for this point. Job said to himself, “When he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Suffering purifies a man. There are many impurities in our lives and suffering is like fire sent to purify us.

We talk about the next four reasons for suffering in our post next week. Stay tuned.

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苦難是一個迷, 我們不能用一個方程式來解釋,也不能用一個理由來解釋,現在全世界都面對Covid-19的問題, 不少人已經離開世界,也有不少人在患病之中,我們當怎樣去解釋,怎樣去面對呢?





苦難與罪常常產上關連,很多苦難都來自罪,我們不能否認,因為這是鐵一般的事實;我們要明白不是每一個苦難都是因為罪的,但很多苦難與罪是分不開的,不要自欺欺人,罪好像火一樣,沒有一個玩火而不被火燒傷的。雅各與神摔跤後,他的腿瘸了,從此以後,他行路的時候都是一拐一拐,這不是對他一種最大的提醒嗎? 雅各你還要靠自己嗎?你還敢隨便嗎?




卻是使一個的生命更提醒,約伯可以說這方面的代表人物。他又自言: 被試練他必如精金,苦難使一個人的生命更統正,我們的生命裡有很多雜質的,苦難就如火一般來煉淨我們。