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Theology

Theology of Suffering Worksheets 2

Worksheet #2—1: Death of humans and livestock—by fire of God (1:16), by the sword (1:17), and by wind (1:18); theft of livestock—raiders (1:17). Painful sores—Satan (2:7). All: caused by Satan, with God’s permission.

  1. While I’ve never exactly prayed a prayer like the one Job prays, I’ve certainly felt that way sometimes. I think when faced with circumstances of very profound loss (and I’ve been there a couple times in my life), it’s natural to think this way, and wish one was never born.
  2. Firstly, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar all consistently aver that Job is at fault: he has sinned in some way, no matter how righteous he may seem, and God is doing all of this to punish him. However, Elihu maintains that they are wrong: God is absolutely righteous and just, and there is no reason to believe He is punishing Job. On the other hand, Job is wrong for thinking that God is being unjust, because God cannot be unjust.
  3. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar counsel Job to repent of his sins in order to be relieved of his suffering—theirs is a very simplistic theodicy. Elihu, however, urges Job to trust in God’s sovereignty and righteousness, and praise Him.
  4. Against the three, Job maintains that he cannot repent of sins he has not committed. He bitterly laments what he perceives as injustice. However, he does not get a chance to respond to Elihu, because God interjects to challenge him.
  5. I guess if I’m being honest, it’s a little hard to read about what Job went through, and then to see God challenge him on top of all of that in 38:1-40:2, and then again from 40:6 on. That said, I understand the context and why God did it.
  6. God’s challenge to Job is whether Job can truly presume to discredit God’s justice, given that Job cannot carry out justice in the way that God can because he lacks the power.
  7. The book of Job teaches the reader that suffering can come to good people, and it is not simply and necessarily a punishment for sins. It also teaches the reader that God’s justice is absolute, and we should always trust in God and always praise Him.

Worksheet #3—1. Firstly, God is absolutely sovereign over Satan: though considerable in its own right, Satan’s power is under God’s control. The conflict between the archangel Michael, the prince of the Persian kingdom, the devil, and the dragon is a part of the spiritual war between God and Satan.

  1. It is necessary for believers to arm ourselves against the Devil and his snares: through prayer and confession of sin, we can draw close to God and gain strength to resist Satan. This is why we must put on the full armor of God.
  2. In some cases, God allows Satan and his servants freer reign with certain wrongdoers, in order that those wrongdoers may reap the fruits of their own misdeeds. This may seem strange, but it is really a part of God’s justice for those who have rejected Him.
  3. Satan does cause some human suffering, chiefly by encouraging those under his influence to do what he wants them to do, which often entails inflicting suffering on others as well as on themselves. However, the Devil does not cause all human suffering, and God remains in absolute control over Satan.
  4. This study has definitely made me want to be more prayerful with regards to how I approach suffering, both others’ and my own. I realize now that God’s purposes are more complex than I had realized before.   
  5. This definitely makes me want to praise God the more, because I realize just a little better how much His ways are beyond my own!
  6. The Church needs to remember that if Satan isn’t actively trying to tear us down 24/7, we’re doing something wrong and we need to make sure we’re on fire for Christ.

Worksheet #8—1. Most fundamentally, Christ is the answer to human suffering because of His work of salvation. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and therefore no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). What this means is that Christ is the one who will end all of our sufferings: because of Him, we will have eternity in heaven with God and with all the saints (Revelation 21:6-7). Paul is clear in Romans 5-6 that it is by our faith in Christ that we are cleansed of our sins (Rom. 5:1-2). Sin entered the world because of Adam’s sin, and with it suffering of all kinds (Rom. 5:12). However, when Christ came, He came as the ‘second Adam’: the One Who would break the curse of Adam’s sin (Rom. 5:15-21). It is in this sense that Christ is the answer for all of humanity’s sufferings: only by Him can we gain favor with God, thereby becoming His heirs, and joint heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17).

  1. My personal reaction would have to be elation. I am absolutely elated every time I stop to truly contemplate what Jesus Christ, my beloved Savior, accomplished for me on the cross. I am also humbled: I didn’t deserve what Christ did for me! None of us did! We know from the Scriptures that our righteousness comes by faith, because we are all sinners who fall short of God’s glory, but we are justified, made right with God, through Christ (Rom. 3:22-24). I don’t know what to ‘think’ about this, other than to fall to my knees in thankful prayers of gratitude! I suppose that’s really more how it makes me feel.

And true, there is still suffering in this life, and it’s not always easy to ‘just’ say ‘Oh, it’s okay, it’ll all be better in Heaven’. That said, I think if we keep this eternal perspective in our minds and especially in our hearts, we will go very far. Our struggles, our travails, our sufferings in this life only prefigure the glory to come.

Worksheet #9—1. Christians suffer for Christ when we are persecuted because of our love for Him. This is the kind of suffering referred to in these passages. It’s relatively easy to distinguish this kind of suffering from others, because it only targets believers.

  1. We share in Christ’s sufferings when we, like Him, submit ourselves to God’s will in the face of suffering. I understand the phrase as referring to our need to sometimes suffer in order to follow God’s will: to reject sin, and to persevere in the face of persecution.
  2. By obeying God and renouncing our sin through Christ’s sacrifice, we share in His death by dying to our old, sinful selves. This may occur in the face of suffering; this may even occasion suffering.
  3. Our lives are not our own. As such, we must be prepared to die for Christ in a literal and physical sense, if necessary. And in our daily lives, we must take up our crosses every day and die to our old, sinful selves anew.

5 (a). Because we are in the body of Christ, when one member suffers, we all suffer because we care about them. Moreover, one can also suffer in a way that encourages others by example. The positive effect on others is how we distinguish these sufferings from others. (b). Through sympathy and moral support, and by showing others how to persevere to the glory of God. (c). When one suffers for/with others in Christ’s name, one does so for/with Christ, and vice versa.

  1. We may suffer because of our salvation, either in rejecting sin (dying to ourselves daily) or in experiencing persecution and all manner of rejection on account of our love for Christ.

7 (a). God’s favor, encouragement of others, perfection of faith, and our ultimate reward in Christ. (b). All of them, in both cases, for encouragement and hope in Christ’s holy Name.