• What is the Christian attitude toward suffering?

    It would seem that the most honest and consistent answer would address what scripture reveals about the ideal Christian attitude toward suffering, realizing first and foremost that suffering is not arbitrary or cruel; rather, it is both purposeful and necessary. Attaining and maintaining a scriptural attitude toward suffering is one of the many ways faith challenges the Christian, since it (like all spiritual matters) runs contrary to human nature, which tries to avoid suffering by every possible means. Nonetheless, the Bible tells us that suffering is part of the Christians’ “trial by fire” (1 Peter 1:7). No one “likes” to suffer; yet Christians are taught to expect suffering and hardship (not only from physical causes, but more importantly, from spiritual causes – 2 Timothy 3:12) and to “rejoice” in it (1 Peter 4:12, 13), for several reasons. One: Suffering for the cause of Christ is necessary in order to truly be one of God’s “children.” (Note the word “if” in the following passage. It’s a tiny word, but one of the most powerful words in Scripture, because it indicates a conditional statement to follow. In Bible study, “if” should NEVER be overlooked!) Romans 8:16, 17 – The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.Two: Suffering reminds Christians that this life is not all there is; that our “human condition” (subject to suffering) is temporary, and that we await something unimaginably better. Therefore, we are not to live in fear or dread of suffering. Romans 8:18 – For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.Revelation 2:10 – Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.Three: Suffering produces patience, improves our character, and increases our hope.Romans 5:3, 4 – And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.Four: Enduring suffering with patience is one of the very few things Christians can actually DO to demonstrate any degree of worthiness.2 Thessalonians 1:4, 5 – so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer;Five: Suffering gives God opportunity to provide comfort, and gives Christians opportunity to comfort one another, also reminding us that it’s something we all have in common.Philippians 4:6, 7 – Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.2 Corinthians 1:3, 4 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.1 Corinthians 12:26 – And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. These observations are far from exhaustive. Since dealing with suffering is something each and every Christian must do, Scripture has far more to say on the subject. But to conclude: The Christian attitude toward suffering should be as that of the Apostle Paul, who suffered as much (or more) for the cause of Christ than any man who ever lived (Acts 9:16), yet was able to say: 2 Corinthians 4:17 – For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. [Quotes from NKJV]No one is innocent, everyone sins. There’s no such thing as innocent suffering. Even babies, as soon as they are able too, they WILL sin.