The Purpose of Suffering: a Christian Perspective

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The Purpose of Suffering: A Christian Perspective The concept of suffering plays an important role in Christianity, regarding such matters as moral conduct, spiritual advancement and ultimate destiny. Indeed an emphasis on suffering pervades the Gospel of Mark where, it can be argued, we are shown how to “journey through suffering” (Ditzel 2001) in the image of the “Suffering Son of Man” (Mark 8:32), Jesus Christ. Although theologians have suggested that Mark was written to strengthen the resolve of the early Christian community (Halpern 2002, Mayerfeld 2005), the underlying moral is not lost on a modern reader grappling with multifarious challenges regarding faith in the face of suffering. In his article “A Christian Response to…show more content…
Personally I think people need guidance and to know they are not alone when pain overwhelms them or their loved ones. To know that God is present, albeit in a way “which is beyond us”, can help those who suffer to come to terms with suffering, perhaps even achieve “a freedom, a serenity, a wholeness” on account of it; often despite not being cured (Marravee 1987). From Christian author and disability advocate, Joni Eareckson Tada, we find an inspiring example. In her books, Tada speaks of how a belief in the solidarity of God has helped her in her difficult journey through suffering . A common reaction to suffering is to ask "Why?" - "Why did God let it happen to me?" Jesus’ reaction however, lies in stark contrast. Notably, Jesus does not self pity or place blame . The message here, according to Oswald Chambers, is: No sin is worse than the sin of self pity, because it removes God from the throne of our lives, replacing Him with our own self interests. It causes us to open our mouths only to complain, and we simply become spiritual sponges - always absorbing, never giving and never being satisfied. And there is nothing lovely or generous about our lives. Jesus’ reaction in Mark is one of total submission to suffering; Jesus knows He must suffer and accepts it as divine necessity. Although Jesus is vulnerable and fearful of His imminent death (shown through His prayer to Abba (Daddy) in the Garden of Gethsemane), Jesus does not shirk
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