sources of suffering

Last updated on April 19th, 2024


In the previous post we looked at some of the evidence that gives us confidence in God’s character. In particular, that God is Love and God is Good. Two vital foundations to resisting Satan’s attempts to make us question God’s character. Can God be one of the sources of suffering?

A question of God’s responsibility

Should the questions from part I continue with “If God is a God of Love then how could He DO…….?” or “ ….. why does He DO …..?” they have a built-in premise which must also be addressed. The assumption being that “God is to blame (is directly responsible) for all the horrible things” that happen. Things that cause suffering across the planet and/or to us personally. Generally, from my experience in the community, of all the possible sources of suffering God is spoken of as being IT. Even by those who profess not to believe He exists!!

So now we look at the four sources of suffering that we mentioned at the end of the last post …

Sources of suffering i) Depraved Humanity in Action –

Genesis 1:26 and 5:1 tell us Adam was made in the image of God. Adam was pure and holy – the likeness of God.
Genesis chapter 3 tells us how Adam distrusted God, succumbed to the lure of the serpent and therefore had to be banished from the Garden (separated from God – spiritual death) because sin can’t fellowship with God.
When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image” – sinful and under a curse brought on by subjecting himself to Satan (Genesis 5:3)

Cain, Adam’s firstborn, became angry and ultimately, a murderer (Genesis 4:8). Lamech, one of Cain’s descendants, married two women (Genesis 4:19) and boasted of at least two murders (Genesis 4:23). Human behaviour became so degenerate so quickly that the destruction of the whole of Noah’s world was only 9 generations from Adam [just 1,656 years after Adam was created!!]. Genesis 6:5 reports that “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time”. Furthermore, God declared “…. even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood” (Genesis 8:21)

Paul gives us a clear picture of the condition of the human heart as descendants (in the image/likeness) of Adam:-

Romans 1:18-32 show that humans account for a large proportion of the atrocities in our daily news because ….. “ the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another …… a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. ….. filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. ….. full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They:- are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; …. invent ways of doing evil; …. disobey their parents; …. are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practise them.”

Similarly in Galatians 5:17-21a – “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the [Holy] Spirit ….. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.”

Each of these acts of the sinful nature, causes damage and/or pain in the lives of others in varying degrees. Often they cause pain and/or damage in the culprit themself. They are of course sources of suffering.

Sources of suffering ii) Direct Action/Interference of Satan –

The Cross was victorious because Jesus died without sin. Being sinless, Jesus was outside Satan’s dominion enabling His ‘wrongful’ death to effectively pay the sentence for all human sin. Thus He retrieved us from Satan’s dominion. On top of that, His resurrection shattered the power of death that sin brought into our world. We share in His resurrection if we live in Christ which is incredible Love and Grace (Romans 6:5, Colossians 3:1). God will banish Satan permanently (Revelation 20:10) but the set time has not yet come

In the meantime, Satan remains “the ruler of the kingdom of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). Whilst he has no real power over us in Christ he is able to hinder, tempt and spread fear if we let him. As Paul describes, Satan inflicts us with “all the flaming arrows of the evil one

The Bible warns – Satan still tries luring or turning us away from God. He:-
  1. Tempts People With Evil“….., I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless” (1Thesselonians 3:5)
  2. Inspires Wicked ThoughtsPeter asked, Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land?” (Acts 5:3)
  3. Opposes Those In God’s Service – Paul experienced “…. we made every effort to see you. For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan stopped us” (1Thesselonians 2:17,18)
  4. Inflicts people – Peter says, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (1Peter 5:8,9). References to Satan’s oppressing individuals through physical and mental illnesses include:- Matthew 8:16,17, Mark 5:15, Mark 9:25, Luke 8:2, Luke 13:16
  5. Seduces Believers To Sin – “But I fear, … as the serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness, your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity and the purity that is toward Christ” (2Corinthians 11:3)
  6. Perverts doctrine – Causing strife and pain in the church ….. some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons” (1Timothy 4:1, 2)
  7. Blinds Unbelievers’ minds – “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2Corinthians 4:4)

As a consequence, Satan is one of the larger sources of suffering

Sources of suffering iii) Effect of SIN on the planet –

Adam relinquished his position of trust in (totally believing) God, followed Satan’s leading, let Eve eat the apple and had some himself. Their eyes were opened, the deed was done. But only after Adam had taken a bite. Satan gained authority over mankind, separated him now a sinner, from God, and took over his dominion of the world. for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. (2Peter 2:19). And so, Adam exposed the world to the curse of his sin. Hence, the comfortable, lush and bountiful, healthy world became cursed under Satan’s dominion

A most often ignored proclamation is: “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one” (1John 5:19). The originally perfectly balanced systems started to continuously degrade and decay. Sickness, disease and death entered the world

Gardening and life in general:-

“….. Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your f ood until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:17-19). Adam and Eve’s environment and source of nutrition changed. Because of sin, decay and death became a reality for humans, animals, and nature (plants, flowers, fruit etc.)

The weather:-

The sin implicitly, affected the climate. planet earth sources of sufferingPrior to sinning Adam and Eve had no need of any covering, neither for warmth nor protection from sunburn. Afterward, “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21). It is true that the clothes could have just been for the new concept of modesty…. “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked;” (Genesis 3:7). But they would definitely be much warmer wearing skins than not unless there was a climate change

However, in some places, rising temperatures in conjunction with death now at work in plants, formed deserts. Barren, arid and inhospitable places unlike the original design in which “….. streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground” (Genesis 2:6). “The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:12)

The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the exalted of the earth languish. The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse consumes the earth
(Isaiah 24:4-6) and we have natural disasters joining the sources of suffering

Other indications sin affects the earth include :-

Ezra talking with God … “you said: ‘The land you are entering to possess is a land polluted by the corruption of its peoples. By their detestable practices they have filled it with their impurity from one end to the other” (Ezra 9:11)

You will hear of wars and rumours of wars but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” (Matthew 24:6-8)

The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it (Adam), in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay ….. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Romans 8:19-22)

there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now ….. Immediately after the distress of those days ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ (Matthew 24:21, 29 – Jesus describing the end of this age as foretold by Isaiah 13:10, 34:4)

Hence, ‘Natural disasters’

– not part of what God declared GOOD – wreak havoc as we await the new (replacement) Earth God promised. “Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth…” (Isaiah 65:17). Peter reminds us …. “But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, …..” (2 Peter 3:13)

God intimated the Earth, though deemed Good at creation, was deteriorating under the dominion of Satan when, after the flood, He declared …. “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” (Genesis 8:22)

Sources of suffering iv) Our own mistakes –

We make mistakes too easily that cause ourselves to suffer and rarely can we do so without impacting someone else. My mistakes, whether accidental or deliberate cause me and/or others to suffer. They can spring from ignorance, may result from impatience, or frustration but almost always, we live to regret them. That is, we suffer the consequences. Our mistakes appear on the list of sources of suffering

With this in mind, I checked Google – “Suffering from our mistakes” is an incredibly common Google search item with 10’s of millions of hits. All that to say, we can be one of the sources of suffering for ourselves as well as others


Before God’s Righteous Judgement at the end of this era, sources of suffering will remain:- the perversion of human nature; Satan; natural disasters; our own mistakes

In the light of the Scriptural revelation man’s rebellion, against God’s Word; don’t eat that, birthed all these sources of suffering. Subsequently history reveals God’s faithful “tussle”. His Love versus our rejection of Him

In the first place, disobedience broke His conversational relationship (communion) with Adam and Eve. Adam chose to follow Satan’s lure and distrusted God. Later, God formalised a covenant of relationship with Abram. Thereafter, world events and individual lives are a demonstration of man’s breaking that promise. But also of God reminding His people of His Love covenant, calling His people back to Himself. Consequently revivals happen. But as a result of human weakness the enemy lures human focus away from God again. And so it goes on with the sources of suffering coming from man’s walking away from the cover of blessing in the covenant

just sayin’

[see separate post and booklet “… suffering Part 3 – coping with suffering” and “… suffering Part 4” for what the Scriptures tell us about God’s coping and defence strategies for us and His allowing the sufferings at all]

Don’t let the suffering buffet you about let alone distract your focus from the Lord and what he has already done. Rather, soak up the encouragement and Joy of this song by Dan opdeVeigh of Flatirons Community Church, (also on Spotify)

Bibliography –

  • The Holy Bible, New International Version®. Pradis CD-ROM Grand Rapids: The Zondervan Corporation, © 1973, 1978, 1984.
  • Photo by The New York Public Library on Unsplash
  • Song: “103 (oh My Soul)” by Dan opdeVeigh of Flatirons Community Church (YouTube) also on Spotify

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Don`t copy text!
Scroll to Top