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Biblical Counseling Series: Why is there suffering in the World Today? A look into Chapter 3 of Cari

Suffering, pain, and agony surrounds our culture today. Top Headlines read “Riots in Wisconsin burned a car dealership down.” This leads to the question, “Why is there suffering in the world?” Different figures take different stances. Some take a scientific stance, other take a mythological stance. But the Christians stand firm that suffering is allowed today because man has been eternally separated from God. In Caring for Souls, the authors try to answer the question of “Why is there suffering in the world?”  

Suffering happens to everyone, at one point or another. Harry shields believes suffering comes because of our fallen nature. Our fallen nature is one based on sin. Millard Erickson defines sin as “a failure to live up to what God expects of us in act, thought or being.” (As cited in Shields, 2001, pg. 110). Harry Shields continues to say, “Sin in any form damages people and ultimately brings trials” (Harry Shields, 2001, pg. 111). My question to this, “How does Sin bring trials?” He responds to this question by basically saying that sin, in the short time, may be prosperous, but in the end it will bring destruction and despair. We should never live in sin. When I sinned against God, I felt like I had damaged myself. However, Suffering produces Endurance. When we suffer, we should trust in God even more. Jeremiah, the author of the book of Jeremiah, wrote to the exiles that were in Babylonian captivity. Exiles suffered a lot. However, Jeremiah said to the exiles, “God has a plan for you, a plan to prosper you and not harm you.” It is so amazing that God has a plan for his chosen people even the midst of their suffering. There will be times where you feel like God has forsaken you, exiles. But remember God has a plan for you.

For the sake of context, Jeremiah 29:1-14 states,

“This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2 (This was after King Jehoiachin[a] and the queen mother, the court officials and the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the skilled workers and the artisans had gone into exile from Jerusalem.) 3 He entrusted the letter to Elasah son of Shaphan and to Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. It said: 4 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” 8 Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. 9 They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord. 10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.[b] I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

This passage was written the exiles that were in Babylonian (Jer. 29:1). This was also written those who are amid suffering. Jeremiah said that they will be in their suffering for 70 years. But during those seven years, God is with them and protecting them. God is testing their faith, because testing their faith produces Endurance. Even when we are in the midst of suffering, God has a plan for you (Jer. 29:11). When you face trials, turn towards God, and pray to Him (Jeremiah 29:12-14). Even when you face many trials, you can always turn to God. So, Suffering is ultimately caused by our fallen nature. This is my analysis of Caring for Souls Chapter 3. Jeremiah 29 is an important passage on how God can protect his people during a trial they face.

References

Bredfeldt, G, and Harry Shields. 2001. Caring for Souls: Counseling under the authority of Scripture. Chicago, IL: Moody Press.

Evans, L. H. Jr. 1982. Covenant to Care: How to make close friends…how to be a close friend. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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