How Do Christians Respond to Suffering?
Brother Richie Juatco: Are you going through a rough point in your life right now and searching for the proper way to handle what you might be suffering? Now, it’s understandable why almost everyone tries to avoid suffering, but is all suffering something bad? Or is there a way to use it as an advantage or opportunity? Stay with us.
Brother Richie: Hello, I’m Brother Richie Juatco and with me here in our studios in the San Francisco Bay Area is Brother Bernard Daos. Hey, Brother Bernard.
Brother Bernard Daos: Hello, Brother Richie. You know, everyone today will have their share of suffering, no matter how much effort we put into preventing ourselves from it. But those who triumph over adversity are looked up to and even highly respected.
Guidance to overcome suffering
Brother Richie: Now, are there Bible verses about suffering and are there examples in the Bible of these types of people who triumph or overcome it? What guidance can the Bible give us?
Brother Bernard: Well, let’s turn to the advice of the apostles, as written here in the book of James 5:10-11, and this is what we can read:
My brothers and sisters, take the prophets as your mentors. They have prophesied in the name of the Lord and it brought them great sufferings, yet they patiently endured. We honor them as our heroes because they remained faithful even while enduring great sufferings. And you have heard of all that Job went through and we can now see that the Lord ultimately treated him with wonderful kindness, revealing how tenderhearted he really is!
[James 5:10-11 The Passion Translation]
Here, the Bible directs our attention to the prophets, and specifically, to Job, [whom] we should use as our mentors. It says that we should honor them as our heroes because they remained faithful even while enduring great suffering.
Brother Richie: Now, why should we consider Job as a mentor? What did he go through that, on some scale, we can relate to?
Brother Bernard: Well, let’s turn to the Biblical account written in Job 1:14-17. Let me read what it says:
And there came a messenger to Job and said, The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, And the Sabeans swooped down upon them and took away [the animals]. Indeed, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you. While he was yet speaking, there came also another and said, The fire of God (lightning) has fallen from the heavens and has burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you. While he was yet speaking, there came also another and said, The Chaldeans divided into three bands and made a raid upon the camels and have taken them away, yes, and have slain the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.
[Job 1:14-17 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition]
Brother Bernard: Here, we can read that the loss that Job suffered—of his wealth and his livelihood, his livestock—happened all in one day. Now, what did he lose? What we read was his donkeys, the sheep, the camels; and not only that, but even the servants were killed too.
Brother Richie: Now, so many can relate to what he went through because so many, they have lost their jobs, [they’ve had] to close their businesses, and they completely lost their major source of income due also to crime, theft, violence, and even natural disasters. Brother Bernard, what else did Job suffer?
Brother Bernard: Well, let’s continue to read in the Book of Job, and this time, we’ll read verse 18 and 19:
While he was yet speaking, there came also another and said, Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house, And behold, there came a great [whirlwind] from the desert, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.
[Job 1:18-19 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition]
Brother Bernard: Here, we learn that Job also suffered one of the greatest losses—the loss of his family. Now, one of the most painful things to suffer is the loss of a child, let alone all of one’s children.
Brother Richie: You know, just like Job, many today suffer that terrible situation of losing a family member. And we have to understand, during the height of the pandemic, most people were not even allowed to be with their loved ones during their last moments. What else did Job go through?
Brother Bernard: Well, let’s continue to read here in the Book of Job 2:7-8. Take note of this:
So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself while he sat in the midst of the ashes.
[Job 2:7-8 New King James Version]
Brother Bernard: Here, Job suffered from a painful sickness and disease. Imagine, he had painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head, or his entire body.
Brother Richie: Now, this is something many are experiencing. Sickness and diseases have been a crisis all over the world, even before the pandemic. Now, how did Job’s situation worsen after everything that we’ve been learning?
Brother Bernard: When we thought it couldn’t get any worse, let’s read what happened here in the book of Job 2:9:
Then his wife said to him, Do you still hold fast your blameless uprightness? Renounce God and die!
[Job 2:9 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition]
Brother Bernard: So here, at Job’s lowest point—when he was enduring all of these sufferings, his wife, who is supposed to be his comfort, his source of support, actually betrayed him and attacked his values and his faith. How did she attack his faith? She said, “Renounce God and die!”
Brother Richie: You know, unfortunately, there are people today that also suffer the betrayal of loved ones, close friends, and even family members. Are there people who, like Job, have suffered all [of] this at the same time? Well, maybe not all at the same time. But in one way or another, everyone has had their part of these types of sufferings. Now, what kind of effect did all of these things have on Job?
Brother Bernard: Well, for that, let’s read what Job has say in the book of Job 3:10-11, 20, 23-26. Here’s what he says:
Curse that night for letting me be born, for exposing me to trouble and grief. I wish I had died in my mother’s womb or died the moment I was born. …
Why let people go on living in misery? Why give light to those in grief? … God keeps their future hidden and hems them in on every side. Instead of eating, I mourn, and I can never stop groaning. Everything I fear and dread comes true. I have no peace, no rest, and my troubles never end.
[Job 3:10-11, 20, 23-26 Good News Bible]
Brother Bernard: Here, we can see—even feel—the agony that Job went through. Even having thoughts cross his mind about not wanting to be born or dying the moment he was born. Now, some people today are feeling hopeless, just like this, because of [their] sufferings.
Brother Richie: So, it is true that we can relate to Job. But it’s also more likely that his experiences exceed what any of us might be going through. So, before we learn how he handled his situation and what he learned from it, let’s fast forward to how he ended up. Brother Bernard, how did Job end up after going through all of these different sufferings?
Brother Bernard: So let’s jump now to Job 42:12-13, 16-17. Listen to what happened:
The LORD blessed the last part of Job’s life even more than he had blessed the first. Job owned fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, two thousand head of cattle, and one thousand donkeys. He was the father of seven sons and three daughters. … Job lived a hundred and forty years after this, long enough to see his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. And then he died at a very great age.
[Job 42:12-13, 16-17 Good News Bible]
Is suffering a good thing?
Brother Bernard: Now, we can understand why the apostles advised us to use Job as our mentor in handling or facing our sufferings. Do sufferings make you a better person? Is suffering a good thing? From what we will learn, suffering can lead to even greater blessings.
Brother Richie: So, let’s find out, how is it that he handled his situation?
Brother Bernard: So, Brother Richie, what advice did Job receive that all of us can apply to our own life?
Brother Richie: Let’s turn to what’s recorded in Job 4:5-6, this is what Job was advised—something that we can learn from. This is what we can read:
Now it’s your turn to be in trouble, and you are too stunned to face it. You worshiped God, and your life was blameless; and so you should have confidence and hope.
[Job 4:5-6 Good News Bible]
Brother Richie: What advice did Job receive from his friends? Well, we read, they said, “…you should have confidence and hope.” Now, why should Job have confidence and hope if he’s suffering? His friends reminded him, “You worshiped God, and your life was blameless…” Job was a faithful servant of God, always worshiping and striving to live the way God instructed. So, to our viewers, consider your own lives. Are you living your life based on God’s teachings and always worshiping Him? If not, this is what we should work on because it will give us confidence and hope when troubles come.
Brother Bernard: So Brother Richie, how did Job regard God, even when he was confused as to what was happening to him?
Brother Richie: Well, we can read in the book of Job again, chapter 23 now, we’ll read verses 1-6. So, this is what the Bible mentions:
Then Job answered: “I am still complaining today. I groan because God is still making me suffer. I wish I knew where to find him. I wish I knew how to go to where he lives. I would present my case to him. I would make my arguments to show that I am innocent. He could give his response, and I would understand. I would listen closely to what he says. Would God use his power against me? No, he would listen to me!
[Job 23:1-6 Easy-to-Read Version]
Brother Richie: We can see that although Job was puzzled, he was confused, as to why his situation took a turn for the worst. He still remained humble. He looked for God. He sought Him out. What is the proof? According to what we’ve read, Job said, “I groan because God is still making me suffer. …I would understand. I would listen closely to what He says.” This is how we should conduct ourselves and regard God when we’re feeling difficult and unpleasant experiences.
Brother Bernard: So the question is, because of his faith in God, how was Job able to view what he was going through? View his situation?
Brother Richie: Let’s continue, we’ll stay here in chapter 23 but we’ll read verse 10-12:
But God knows me. He is testing me and will see that I am as pure as gold. I have always lived the way God wants. I have never stopped following him. I always obey his commands. I love the words from his mouth more than I love my food.
[Job 23:10-12 Easy-to-Read Version]
Brother Richie: What did Job realize about his situation? Well, he said, “…God knows me. He is testing me…” Now, why did he feel it was a test and not a punishment? Because he said, “I have always lived the way God wants. …I always obey His commands.” Therefore, knowing God’s commands—that’s the first step to take to ensure we can handle trouble and suffering the right way and not just any way.
Brother Bernard: And that first step is the exact reason why we, here, in the Church Of Christ—we encourage you to study with us regarding God’s commandments written in the Bible. You see, one cannot obey God’s commands without learning them first.
How can we assess how God is testing us?
Brother Richie: That’s correct. Knowing God’s commands is vital in order to know what to obey and how to assess how God is testing us. Assessment is necessary in order to pass the tests.
Brother Bernard: So, Brother Richie, what is required after we make that assessment—after we examine ourselves and our way of life?
Brother Richie: Very good question. We’ll turn to what’s recorded in Job 11:14-18. It says this:
Put away evil and wrong from your home. Then face the world again, firm and courageous. Then all your troubles will fade from your memory, like floods that are past and remembered no more. Your life will be brighter than sunshine at noon, and life’s darkest hours will shine like the dawn. You will live secure and full of hope; God will protect you and give you rest.
[Job 11:14-18 Good News Bible]
Put away evil
Brother Richie:Every time we honestly examine our own life, we know we’re going to find mistakes, wrong-doings, and sin. What should we do? As you asked, that self-examination? Well, the Bible is the one that says, “Put away evil and wrong from your home.” This is a requirement to receive God’s help and his mercy.
Brother Bernard: And on that point, for the parents and for the leaders of the families who are watching, [we] want to point out that the instruction is to put away or remove evil and wrong from our home. So if we see wrong happening at home, [in] our families, we have the responsibility—the duty—to correct and to not condone.
Brother Richie: That’s correct. And how then will our life be if, through adjusting and renewing our lives—we did that self-examination—and when we found out what was wrong, we removed that burden of sin? How would it be? The Bible says, “Then face the world again, firm and courageous. Then all your troubles will fade from your memory, like floods that are past and remembered no more.” Now, why would the troubles and sufferings fade if we adjust our lives the way God instructs us? Because the Bible says, “God will protect you and give you rest.” This is the very reason all those inside the Church—the Church Of Christ—are reminded to strive to live in holiness. Because we want strength and protection that only God can provide.
Brother Bernard: But what some may ask is that strength, that protection—when will this come from our Lord God?
Brother Richie: Let’s read the Bible’s answer here in 1 Peter 5:10. We know that there are many who know the problems that they’re going through—they’re waiting for that strength. So that’s a good question—when is it going to come? This is the answer of the Bible. It says:
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace [Who imparts all blessing and favor], Who has called you to His [own] eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely, and strengthen, and settle you.
[1 Peter 5:10 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition]
Brother Richie: For those hoping to receive the strength—maybe they’re hoping to receive it to avoid going through sufferings—what is it that we should understand? Now God indeed, it says He will, “…establish and ground you securely, and strengthen, and settle you.” But know this, when will this come? The Bible is the one that clarifies, “…after you have suffered…” Therefore, we really can’t avoid suffering because it really is all part of God’s plan. But if we handle it by following God’s instructions, suffering is the opportunity to gain strength.
Brother Bernard: That’s why to those who are going through a rough point in our life right now, we hope, [we] sincerely pray [that] you consider what we have just learned as God’s love and His help. You may be experiencing great difficulties and sufferings but you will find emotional healing—you will find strength in the Bible, through learning and obeying God’s words.
Brother Richie: On behalf of all of us here on The Message, we’d like to thank you for joining us in today’s study of God’s message. But before we go, please join us for a prayer.
Brother Bernard: Our loving, merciful God, we thank You from the bottom of our hearts for the strength, the hope, and the encouragement that we received in today’s message. We sincerely pray, dear God, this will reach all of our viewers, our friends, and our loved ones, especially those who are going through very difficult and challenging times because of the situation of the world today.
May we all continue to feel Your love and mercy. May we be taught Your commandments so that we can live a life that is pleasing before You, and then we could be with You every moment of our life.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, thank You so much because we know that You continue to teach us God’s commandments. Please give us the faith—give us the strength that we need, so that we will be able to live pleasing before our God. Almighty God, once again, thank You for this program of the Church Of Christ, with the guidance of the Church Administration. And we pray that You will continue to bless all those who have been reached by this message today. Thank You once again for this great blessing, and please forgive us for our mistakes. We ask all these things in the name of Your son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
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