Author: Nate Matei
Man-kind has always struggled with the concept of suffering; some have masked it, others have tried to fight it, and most use it to doubt the existence of a benevolent God. Pain seems to be imprinted on our DNA and initiated the day we were conceived, causing humanity to endlessly search for a cure. The psychology of suffering is categorized into three kinds: physical (pain), mental (hardships, mental illnesses), and spiritual (purpose and fulfillment). We as humans skirmish at life’s pains and earnestly search for remedies in all the wrong places; grabbing onto drugs, alcohol, and dopamine-induced behaviors to temporarily numb the pain.
The repetitive choices we make as humans, to alleviate suffering, conceive addictions that usurp themselves as the center-point of our life. We give up everything for that fleeting moment of euphoria, detaching ourselves from the present situation for a glimmer of hope. Originally, pain had no part in human-life, but, according to the biblical account in Genesis, was a result of the Fall of Man through sin. It since has remained foreign to people and pushed the human race to find a solution. However, with no cure in the natural world, the most probable explanation is that of one outside our world.
Referring to scripture, Peter states, “Praise be to the God and Father our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”(1 Peter 1:3–6) The “Hope” or cure for suffering is given in Jesus. By His stripes we are healed, receiving an inheritance in heaven the day we join Him in glory, but what does that mean for mankind's current state of suffering?
Suffering serves a few roles in life. First, “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope”. Introspectively, our existence is defined in our character (who we are), which is completed in our maker. Second, it is through our suffering that God’s glory is revealed, not only to us, but the spectating world. Unfortunately, even when people change their lives, e.g. giving up drugs, withdrawals incur with unavoidable pains; however, after that obstacle, freedom is finally attained. Lastly, our personal Savior continually battles His pain and suffering until we are united with Him in paradise, Paul states, “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4). We have a God that is will endure suffering until those that are His are redeemed.
If tribulation is essential in redemption, we expect that it will not dissipate until God redeems this world, or the moment we leave this world and are present in His glory. In paradise, hope offers no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for our old life has passed and eternal freedom attained.