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Lesson 15
Human Suffering

"If there is a God in Heaven and if He is the 'Almighty' and has a 'compassionate heart,' then why doesn't He stop the suffering which is in the world today? Why doesn't He use His limitless power to put an end to the sorrow that fills the hearts of so many people? If the Almighty really does care for the human race, then why is He so strangely silent about mankind's cruel and crippling problems? Why doesn't He do something about them? And, above all else, why doesn't He answer my prayers?"

Questions such as these are often asked by people all over the world.

We are happy to report that there are answers to these questions, and they are found in the pages of the Holy Bible. We consider it a great privilege to bring some of those answers to you in this lesson; answers which will assuredly stabilize your soul and comfort your heart, especially when you encounter the tempest of some personal tragedy.

Long, long ago when YaHuWaH the Almighty created man and woman, He made them free moral agents and gave them that most basic of human rights - liberty. He allowed Adam and his wife Eve life's greatest liberty - the liberty to choose the way they wanted to live. Man was offered:

  1. The liberty to live a life governed by simple faith in divine leadership - YaHuWaH.
  2. Or of living a life governed by the requirement to 'know,' to analyze, to test and to prove to his own satisfaction what is good and what is evil.

The first way, the way of faith and obedience, was to lead to perfect peace, happiness, health, safety and life everlasting.

The second way, the way of investigation, analysis and knowledge, was alas, to end in death - "dying thou shalt die" the Eternal had warned. But man wasn't to know this fact right away. He could take the Eternal's word for it and accept it by faith, or find out for himself. Thus it was that EL SHADDAI, YaHuWaH the Almighty Elohim of Israel gave to mankind that amazing choice to eat of the Tree of Life by accepting His Word in simple faith, or to eat of the Tree of Knowledge and to learn the hard way - by experience! (Genesis 3)

All of us know that Adam chose the second way, the way of trial and error, the way of personal experience, the way of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. We are not condemning him for his decision, for given the same choice most human beings would have done exactly the same thing. Nevertheless the result of Adam's sin was catastrophic. Indeed is was fatal; for within a short period of time the whole earth was reeling under a burden of doubt, rebellion, violence, disease and death. It just didn't seem possible that so small a matter like 'mistrusting the Creator' could result in so much sorrow, suffering and death. Yet, strangely enough, that is what happened and all of us are still suffering because of Adam's fatal mistake.

YaHuWaH, we hasten to add, was by no means caught off-guard when man chose to doubt His word and go his own way. Scripture tells us that when sin (disobedience) entered the world, the Almighty promptly made known to Adam an emergency plan of how the Seed of the Woman (The Messiah) would one day come to earth to save mankind from that fatal decision to disobey the Creator. That plan is often referred to as the Plan of Salvation. The Plan of Salvation not only reveals the ultimate destiny of man, which is to be a joint-heir with the Savior in the rulership of the mighty universe (see Lesson 10), but it also explains how the Most High is ever willing and able to turn the saddest of situations to good effect, and to produce something of rare beauty and great worth from the most tragic of circumstances.

It is in this connection that we shall now consider the seemingly inexplicable paradox of why YaHuWaH, an Elohim of infinite love and power, permits human suffering to continue; why He doesn't stop it immediately. What's more, we shall see that suffering is a spiritual anvil upon which the Almighty is fashioning human character; the anvil which man so ill-advisedly chose for himself. In other words, under YaHuWaH 's control suffering is being turned to good effect and being used by Him to produce enormous spiritual benefits. With this little known fact in mind, let us now examine what the Bible has to say about human suffering - its cause, its purpose and its fast approaching end.

Personal Sin

To begin with, suffering often comes to a soul as the direct result of personal sin; for it is the inevitable harvest of transgression. People may ignore& YaHuWaH 's instructions, they may foolishly imagine that His commandments are obsolete and unworthy of attention; but YaHuWaH is not mocked. Whether in rebellious defiance or, as often happens, in total ignorance, the fact remains - disobedience (sin) always attracts punishment and results in suffering, sorrow or death. The Bible provides ample evidence of this unpalatable fact.
(Deuteronomy 28:15-20, Leviticus 26:14-20, Psalm 89:30-33)

Parental Sin

  1. Secondly, suffering, in one form or another, is visited upon children unto the third and fourth generations for sins committed by their parents or grandparents. Blessings, by way of comparison, fall upon children unto a thousand generations; so beware of judging the Most High on this point.
    (Exodus 20:5-6, Exodus 34:6-7)

Communal or National Sin

Thirdly we suffer on a communal basis. YaHuWaH assesses mankind as individuals, as families and as communities. And He works to His own standards before He blesses or curses. Communal or national punishments come in the form of war, famine (brought on by freak weather) disease epidemics and earthquakes.
(Jeremiah 28:7-9, 29:18-19, 1 Chronicles 21:12-14, Psalm 105:16, Ezekiel 5:12-17)

Hidden Reasons

Besides these three causes for human suffering, it often happens that people suffer for no apparent reason or fault of their own, their parents or their nation. In these cases there are 'hidden reasons' operating behind the scenes; for suffering may be permitted by Elohim for a special purpose. Here is a short list of some lesser known, special purposes for human suffering:

  1. To glorify the Most High or to vindicate His Name before the entire heavenly army, the sufferer bearing in his own body living testimony to the fact that YaHuWaH 's Word is true and Satan's false. Read the book of Job where this fact is fully demonstrated. Satan claimed that Job served YaHuWaH purely for personal gain and not because he admired His way of life. Satan insisted that if YaHuWaH 's blessings were removed the patriarch Job would soon give up his faith and obedience. YaHuWaH disagreed and gave Satan permission to test Job. Job stood the test, a test of unspeakable suffering ! He proved that YaHuWaH's assessment of him was correct: that Job wasn't being bribed to be good, but was obedient because he loved his Maker.
    Another example of how suffering was allowed for a special reason is found in the story of the man born blind. (John 9)


  2. To allow one the inestimable privilege of sharing in the sufferings of the Almighty; the privilege, that is, of knowing and appreciating in a small way what the Creator is experiencing on a Himalayan scale. Bear in mind that the Most High shares the sufferings of the whole human race, just as a loving parent bears the accumulated suffering of his/her whole family. 


  3. To kindle or even to rekindle faith; and to guide a wanderer towards the Almighty.
    (Deuteronomy 4:30-31)


  4. To strengthen or test one's faith in YaHuWaH.
    (1 Peter 1:6-7, Psalm 66:10, Zechariah 13:9, Isaiah 48:9-11, Malachi 3:2-3)


  5. To produce humility and to root out that monstrous sin - PRIDE.
    (Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 2 Chronicles 12:6-7&12)


  6. To produce, paradoxically enough, patience, endurance, courage and hope.
    (1 Peter 2:19-23, James 5:10-11)


  7. To perfect OBEDIENCE, which, next to faith, is the highest form of worship. Messiah suffered in this category.
    (1 Peter 5:10)


  8. To qualify or enable a believer to help others. This is done by allowing him/her to personally suffer, in order that he/she may in turn effectively console or rescue others who often suffer without understanding and without hope.

As a positive, spiritual safeguard against bitterness, loss of faith, or even blasphemy - which is often expressed when the purpose of suffering is not understood - the student should seek to maintain a CORRECT MENTAL ATTITUDE towards suffering. On no account should unanswered prayer be taken to mean that YaHuWaH doesn't exist, or that He is uninterested in human suffering - because He is.

YaHuWaH the Almighty Elohim of Israel is more concerned with the problem of suffering than the human mind will ever imagine. The truth is that He often allows suffering to come our way for a SPECIAL PURPOSE; and though we may not always know what that purpose is, we may be sure that it exists. A correct mental attitude towards suffering is, therefore, of vital importance; for without it, the human mind could rapidly descend into a state of self-pity, despondency and despair.
(1 Peter 4:12-19, John 16:33)

Suffering, we are privileged to report, is scheduled to come to an end, we are privileged to report, is scheduled to come to an end, and that very shortly. It will have served the purpose, amongst others, of demonstrating to the inhabitants of the whole universe the true character of good and evil, of YaHuWaH and Satan's way. Suffering will one day become a thing of the past and will never again be experienced by anyone throughout time and space. This fact is guaranteed by YaHuWaH Himself. Make sure you remember the message of these vital verses.
(Revelation 21:1-4, Isaiah 35, especially verse 10, Zephaniah 3:16-20)

When compared to the eternal bliss and glory believers are soon to experience, present suffering is really of small account. It is a passing phase, a tragic side-effect of mankind's decision to doubt YaHuWaH 's Word and to learn by trial and error, to learn by experience rather than by divine revelation.

In view of this vital information, there is obviously a great deal a sufferer can do to alleviate his/her own sorrows, to rise above them and with YaHuWaH 's assistance to grow in the faith. Here is a short check list of the positive steps sufferers should take in order to maintain spiritual balance, peace of mind, confidence and hope - in the midst of suffering!

  1. To begin with the sufferer should repent of personal sin and by YaHuWaH 's grace - forsake the path of disobedience. This is the very first step in the process of reducing suffering. It must be taken (See Lessons 1, 2, and 3 about Sin, Repentance and Forgiveness)


  2. If serious physical or mental illness is involved, the sufferer should call for the elders of the Church and request anointing in the Name of YAHUSHUA the Messiah. This divinely appointed course of action still produces the most amazing results.
    (James 5:13-15)


  3. A balanced diet, regular physical exercise, sufficient sleep and fresh air etc. are also points to watch; for YaHuWaH will hardly heal a person who refuses to follow these fundamental principles of good health.


  4. The sufferer should also personally call upon YaHuWaH for help and pray for divine guidance and strength. These are bound to come. Indeed, nothing is more certain in this world of confusion and despair than the fact that YaHuWaH the Elohim of Israel is close at hand to help all those who put their trust in Him
    (2 Samuel 22:4-7, Psalm 118:5-6&14, Psalm 91:9-16)

    STUDY, yes study the book of JOB and the PSALMS. These prophetic passages tell of circumstances of absolute heartache and destitution. Notice how the Psalmist (a type of Messiah) rises above his sufferings in Psalm after Psalm to a triumphant end.


  5. The sufferer should HAVE FAITH IN THE MOST HIGH and carefully cultivate that faith by READING THE HOLY SCRIPTURES DAILY. This is beyond any doubt the best safeguard against a mental or spiritual breakdown, in which misunderstood suffering can so easily result. Yes, HAVE FAITH IN YaHuWaH! He is deeply concerned about you. He loves you much more than you will ever realize. But He doesn't want Satan to say of you that you only obey the commandments for material gain; that you do not really admire YaHuWaH 's lifestyle and character but are following Him for what you can get from Him. And so, as in Job's case, YaHuWaH allows many of His followers to suffer, in order to demonstrate their faith and love for Him.

    You may be certain that those who suffer for this reason will, like Job, receive far more than they have sacrificed. EL SHADDAI will most certainly recompense every soul who has suffered for His Name's sake and Satan will stop accusing YaHuWaH of bribing His people into obedience. Maintaining faith in YaHuWaH amidst suffering is probably the best way of demonstrating one's love fo YaHuWaH.

    Are you willing to suffer for Messiah's sake?

    (Mark 11:22, Habakkuk 3:17-18)


  6. And finally, do not waste your energies and time blaming yourself for your plight. To be sure it may be your own fault. But then, as pointed out, it may not. It may the fault of your parents - three or four generations back. Or it may even be the sins of the society in which you live. Alternatively it may be that you are being put through a test similar to Job, or even the Savior Himself. It matters not WHY you are suffering. Your main objective in suffering should be to repent of and forsake every sin which may be your particular problem. Then trust and obey YaHuWaH, resting in the knowledge that whatever happens thereafter is in His hands.
    People may ignore YaHuWaH 's instructions, they may foolishly imagine that His commandments are obsolete and unworthy of attention; but YaHuWaH is not mocked. The fact remains - disobedience (sin) always attracts punishment and results in suffering, sorrow or death. The Bible provides ample evidence of this unpalatable fact. (Deuteronomy 28:15-20, Leviticus 26:14-20, Psalm 89:30-33) . And He works to His own standards before He blesses or curses. Communal or national punishments come in the form of war, famine (brought on by freak weather) and natural disasters. (Jeremiah 28:7-9, 29:18-19, 1 Chronicles 21:12-14, Psalm 105:16, Ezekiel 5:12-17) Besides these three causes for human suffering, it often happens that people suffer for no apparent reason or fault of their own, their parents or their nation.

    We will end this lesson and pronounce upon all true believers the prescribed blessing for the people of the Most High:

" YaHuWaH bless thee, and keep thee: YaHuWaH make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: YaHuWaH lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
And they shall put My Name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them. "

(Numbers 6:24-27)