The Purpose of Suffering

The book of Job gives several purposes for suffering and evil in the believer’s life. From this list I think we can make a list to check off when we encounter troubles in our lives.

Some churches teach that any trouble is because you have sinned. These modern Pharisees are quick to condemn you and judge you if you have bad things happen to you.   This is the Christian group that tends to shoot their wounded.

There is the group that teaches that God cannot do anything bad. Everything bad is from the Devil. They totally ignore the attributes of holiness and justice of God. They ignore the examples in the Bible where God punished or chastised.

Then there is the group who tend to put God in a box that prevents Him from doing anything. Everything bad is from the world getting morally out of balance.

The question arises, “Did God create Evil?” Isaiah 45:7 “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.” The first thing we must do is look at the word for evil. The word translated “evil” is from a Hebrew word that means “adversity, affliction, calamity, disaster.” However according to the source I was reading, the Hebrew word can mean moral evil. But in this context it seems the word means God brings disaster on the disobedient.

Compiling a list of reasons for suffering you get;

Purposes for Suffering

  1. Test of Character
  2. Punishment for Sins
  3. Out of Balance in Moral Universe
  4. Call to Repentance
  5. Building Faith in God

You might find some other purpose for suffering, but everything I can think of falls into one of these categories. Doing something stupid and getting hurt falls under #2. Robbery, murder, and theft come under #3. And so the list grows.

So the Christian’s first action when faced with suffering, is to determine if it is a consequence of their own sin and actions. After ruling that out, from what I’ve read from the book of Job, God said there are some things we are just not to understand and we have to trust Him.

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