We are living in a technologically advanced world where everything has become easy and quite artificial. Life is losing its value and people are becoming very sensitive in facing the hardships of life. Day by day people suffer due to various reasons in several ways. They find it hard most of the time to understand suffering as it appears in their life’s journey on this planet. At this juncture a person asks many questions and even doubts the existence of God. It is at this time that one needs to be accompanied and to be understood well in one’s situation. There are many kinds of suffering today when a person experiences certain feelings of desertion and boredom in life. Some of them are discussed below.
Original Sin and Suffering: Here a person suffers because of the original sin of our first parents. When Adam sinned, all of us were implicated, and we inherited a sinful nature (a) and were born in a fallen world. (b) As a result, some suffering is simply the result of being part of Adam’s race. This remains the case until Jesus returns, removes the presence of all sin and its effects, resurrects Christians from death, and ushers in a new creation.
Satanic Suffering: Because Satan is alive and is at work in the world, demonic affliction is very real. This includes (a) torment, (b) physical injury, (c) deception arising from false miracles, (d) accusation, (e) and even death. This sort of suffering is very prominent and could be seen all around the world, for in a way, Satan is ruling the world. Collective Suffering: We suffer as a result of being part of a people who are suffering. Here situations matter a lot. Based on the situation of a person, his or her suffering is seen. For instance, those born into poverty, famine, hardship, physical disabilities and war have no other option than to experience suffering simply because of where and when they were born. Vicarious Suffering: Vicarious suffering is like that of Jesus Christ who suffered and died for our salvation. Vicarious affliction comes in varying degrees, from opposition to persecution. We have a list of people in the history of Christianity who have suffered and died to save others and for a just cause. This needs a tremendous faith and love of God. Empathetic Suffering: This is the suffering that comes when someone we love is hurt. The Bible says, this will be common in the Church, because when the people we love suffer, we suffer as well.
Mysterious Suffering: At times God, in his providence, choses not to reveal why we suffer. As Scripture says, we know in part. (l) Job is the most obvious example of this kind of suffering, because during his trouble he was unaware of what was transpiring between God and Satan. I believe that this category is incredibly important because, if we are humble and honest, the truth is that life is often not as clear as the categories listed in this blog.
Consequential Suffering: Sometimes we suffer because of our foolish decisions. We see examples of this throughout the Book of Proverbs: the lazy become hungry, adulterers reap what they sow, fools suffer harm, and poor financial stewards are impoverished. Practically, much of life’s suffering is consequential, resulting from our decisions.
These are a few important types of suffering we come across in our day-to-day life. Many a time we fail to understand these situations of suffering as they come. Most of the time one loses hope and fails to see a new sunset in life. As we all know, there is no proper answer to this mystery of suffering which is very much real in the world. As Christians we have a response to this because of our saviour who too suffered and died for our sake and redeemed us from the clutches of death. At these particular hours of life, the victims need to be understood well by others. They should be made to know about the true value of suffering. For us Christians suffering is not an end in itself. It is a doorway to understand God and his love. This is a chance for us to come closer to God.
It is also advisable for us to see suffering in a different way. When we see so many people suffering today, the first thing we could do for them is to show compassion and love. We have to make them feel that they too are comforted and loved in their situation. Often we see that people ignore the victims rather than make them feel accompanied. At times it is enough even to listen to their agony and that would comfort them. Today suffering has become a burden to people, and quite often they try to terminate suffering by putting an end to their life. At this blind culture of disrespect to life, we as Christians are called upon to make a difference in the lives of those who are suffering. We are called upon to give them a message that Christ still continues to suffer in and through them, which is a great opportunity to be like Jesus and go closer to God. When we try to carry this message we can make a marked difference in the wounded world of today.
By Sch. Joyson sujay Vas
Second Year Theology