By E. L. Bynum
We live in a world of sorrow, suffering, sickness and
affliction. We have heard people ask over and over
again, "WHY?" As we look upon the face of a dear
loved one that is going through sickness and suffering,
we ask, "WHY?" When we touch the fevered brow of
one of God's choicest saints and behold that frail,
emaciated body writhing in pain, we ask, "WHY?"
When we see a mother working night and day trying to
nurse her baby back to health, only to see it wither and
die, we ask, "WHY?" We look upon an invalid, frail,
weak and helpless, and we ask, "WHY?" We see one
greatly loved, but whose mind has become as a little
child, and we ask, "WHY?"
In vain we look to science and philosophy. There is
only one place we can find the answer to our often
repeated question. We will find the answer in the
BIBLE, or we will not find it at all.
Sin Came Before Sorrow
Until sin entered into the world, Adam and Eve knew
nothing about sorrow and suffering. After they sinned,
it was not long before they knew the meaning of
sorrow. "Unto the woman he said, I will greatly
multiply they SORROW..." Gen. 3:16a. "And unto
Adam he said, because thou...hast eaten of the tree,
of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat
of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in SORROW
shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life." Gen. 3:17.
Sin resulted in SORROW for Adam and Eve. Since
Adam was the federal head of the human race, SIN and
SORROW has been transmitted to us all.
We do not mean to teach that each member of the
human race will share an equal amount of suffering,
sorrow and affliction. We know that some suffer a great
deal more than others. To find out WHY, we must look
deeper into the Word of God.
I. SATAN BRINGS SORROW AND SUFFERING
We know that it was Satan that tempted Eve to eat
the forbidden fruit. However, according to the
Scriptures, Satan is still bringing sorrow and suffering.
"And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of
infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and
could in no wise lift up herself." And the Lord said,
"Ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham,
whom SATAN hath BOUND, lo, these eighteen years,
be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?" Luke
13:11,16. Jesus said that this poor woman was bound
by Satan. God only knows how much sorrow and
suffering has been caused by Satan. It will be a
wonderful day when he is cast into the lake of fire.
"God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost
and with power: who went about doing good, and
healing all that were OPPRESSED of the devil." Acts
10:38. The Bible gives us many case histories of men
and women who suffered untold agony because of the
work of Satan and his demons. Read Mark 5:1-20 and
Satan Brings Sorrow and Suffering to Christians
Job was a wealthy man with a large family. "This
man was the greatest of all the men of the east." Job
1:3-b. "And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou con-
sidered my servant Job, that there is none like him in
the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that
feareth God, and escheweth evil?" Job 1:8. Satan was
just itching to get his hands upon this great child of
God. God permitted Satan to interfere in the life of Job.
Soon his oxen, sheep, camels, servants and children
were all gone. This still did not cause Job to forsake
God. Job said, "Naked came I out of my mother's
womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave,
and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of
the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God
foolishly." Job 1:21,22. "So went Satan forth from the
presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils
from the sole of his foot unto his crown." Job 2:7. Even
his wife urged him to "curse God, and die." Of course
in the end, "the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had
before." Job 42:10-b. But think of the sorrow and
suffering that he went through, as the devil vainly
Even the Apostle Paul said, "there was given to me a
thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet
me." II Cor. 12:7. We do not know for sure what this
thorn in the flesh was, but we do know that Satan had
something to do with it. Satan is very busy harassing
the people of God. We must remember and claim for
ourselves God's promise to Paul, "My grace is
sufficient for thee:" II Cor. 12:9.
II. SOME SUFFER BECAUSE OF CHASTISEMENT
Elimelech and his wife Naomi, along with their two
sons, left the promised land and went into the land of
Moab to dwell. Naomi's husband and two sons died in
the land of Moab. Moab was the wrong place for them.
When at long last Naomi returned to Bethlehem, the
people said, "Is this Naomi?" Ruth 1:19. She had
changed so much that they hardly knew her. Naomi
said, "the Almighty hath afflicted me[.]" Ruth 1:21.
The Christian should judge himself, confess his sin to
the Lord and get forgiveness. "For if we would judge
ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are
judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should
not be condemned with the world." I Cor. 11:31,32. "If
we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us
our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
I John 1:9. If the Christian will not repent and confess
his sin unto the Lord, he will soon suffer under the
chastisement of the Lord. "For whom the Lord loveth
he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he
receiveth." Heb. 12:6. To "chasten" means "to
instruct, to train up." Young's Concordance. According
to the dictionary, to "chasten" means to punish for the
sake of moral improvement. God does not punish the
Christian because He hates him but because He love
him. God loves His children too much to let them get by
with sin. It is a poor parent that lets his child do
whatever he wants to do. This would not be love, but
rather it would be neglect. "For whom the Lord loveth
he chasteneth[.]" Read Hebrews 12:1-11.
III. SOME SUFFER FOR THE GLORY OF GOD
"All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer
persecution." II Tim. 3:12. "Blessed are they which are
persecuted for righteousness sake." Matt. 5:10. "For
this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God
endure grief, suffering wrongfully...when ye do well,
and suffer for it...this is acceptable with God." I Pet.
2:19,20. If we serve God daily, we will suffer some form
of persecution. No matter how great the suffering, the
Christian should never get angry and bitter.
Jesus suffered, and so will His true followers. "For-
asmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh,
arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that
hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin." I Pet.
4:1. "If any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be
ashamed." I Peter 4:16. There is a very real sense in
which God uses suffering to purge, purify and cleanse
His people. "I will...purely purge away thy dross,
and take away all thy tin." Isaiah 1:25.
If through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace all sufficient shall be thy supply,
The flame will not hurt thee, I only design,
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
God allows us to go through suffering and sorrow
that we might better know how to comfort others.
"Blessed be...the God of all comfort; Who comfort-
eth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to
comfort them which are in trouble." II Cor. 1:3,4. We
have seen a number of people who have gone through
great sorrow and suffering, who seemed to have a
special talent for comforting others in sorrow. God gave
that ministry and work, but they had to be prepared for
it in the school of suffering.
"If we suffer, we shall also reign with him..." II
Tim. 2:12. "...If so be that we suffer with him, that we
may be also glorified together." Rom. 8:17-b. In the
midst of suffering the child of God needs to be remind-
ed and comforted with the promise of his future
glorification and reign.
Some Are Not Worthy to Suffer for Jesus
Not every Christian is worthy to suffer for the name
of Jesus. The New Testament Christians counted it an
honor to suffer for Him. "And they departed from the
presence of the council, rejoicing that they were
counted worthy to suffer shame for his name." Acts
5:41. The apostles had just been beaten and
commanded not to speak in the name of Jesus anymore.
Their backs are wet with blood, but they leave
"rejoicing[.]" WHY? Because they "were counted
worthy to suffer shame for His name."
In the midst of suffering, the Christian should always
cling to the promise of God. "For we KNOW that ALL
things work together for good to them that love God, to
them who are the called according to His purpose."
IV. SOME SUFFER THAT OTHERS
MIGHT BE SAVED
Christ, of course, suffered as no one else has ever
suffered. On the cross, "He bore our sins in His own
body on the tree." He did this, that guilty sinners
might be saved. "Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass
by? behold, and see if there be any SORROW like unto
my SORROW, which is done unto me, wherewith the
LORD hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger."
Lam. 1:12. "He is despised and rejected of men; a man
of SORROWS, and acquainted with grief...Surely he
hath borne our griefs, and carried our SORROWS...
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was
bruised for our iniquities...All we like sheep have
gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way;
and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."
Isa. 53:3-6. Yes, Jesus suffered; He took my place, He
became my substitute. Through Him, the vilest sinner
can be made clean.
Some Christians Suffer to Bring Others to Christ
We certainly do not mean that a Christian can atone
for the lost sinner. Jesus paid the purchase price once.
But we do know that God can, and does, use the suf-
fering and sorrow of Christians to point sinners to the
Lamb of God.
Few, if any, families were any closer to Christ than
the family of Lazarus. It seems that Jesus spent much
time in their home. Lazarus, Martha and Mary were
greatly loved by Jesus. "...Lazarus was sick.
Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord,
behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. When Jesus heard
that, he said, this sickness is not unto death, but for the
GLORY OF GOD, that the Son of God might be glorified
thereby." John 11:2-4. Jesus deliberately delayed his
trip to Bethany while Lazarus suffered and died.
Lazarus was buried, while Martha and Mary wept in
great sorrow. Remember, these people were saved and
were greatly loved by Jesus. It would have been no
problem for Jesus to have healed him, even while
separated by distance. But instead, there was
suffering, death and sorrow. Sometimes the Christian
does not understand the meaning of suffering and
sorrow when they are in the midst of it. Martha and
Mary did not understand.
HE MAKETH NO MISTAKE
My Father's way may twist and turn,
My heart may throb and ache,
But in my soul I'm glad I know,
He maketh no mistake.
My cherished plans may go astray,
My hopes may fade away,
But still I'll trust my Lord to lead,
For He doth know the way.
Tho' night be dark and it may seem
That day will never break;
I'll pin by faith, my all in Him,
He maketh no mistake.
There's so much now I cannot see,
My eyesight's far too dim;
But come what may, I'll simply trust
And leave it all to Him.
For by and by the mist will lift
And plain it all he'll make.
Through all the way, tho' dark to me,
He made not one mistake.
A. M. Overton
When Lazarus had been dead four days, Jesus raised
him from the dead. (He will one day do this for all of
His family.) Now, Lazarus could see how this sickness
was "for the glory of God[.]" He did not see it till after
his resurrection, and many other Christians will not see
how their suffering was for the glory of God, until after
their resurrection. "Farther along we will know all
about it, farther along we will understand why." Here
was the reason: "Then many of the Jews which came to
Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did,
believed on him." John 11:45. "Much people of the
Jews...came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they
might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the
dead. But the chief priests consulted that they might
put Lazarus to death; Because that by reason of him
MANY OF THE JEWS went away and BELIEVED ON
JESUS." John 12:9-11.
In sick rooms, in hospitals and in many other places,
some of God's choicest saints suffer and go through
great sorrow that they might point sinners to Christ. By
their humility, by their faith, by their patience and tes-
timony they point people to the way of salvation. Just
recently, I heard of a hardened sinner being saved
through the sickness of a loved one who was dying of
cancer. Such examples are found all around us, when
we open our eyes to see. Never shall I forget Bro. and
Sister J. S. McNeely. These two choice saints of God
went through great suffering in their old age. Bro.
McNeely became an invalid in the last years of his life
when he was about 90. Everyone who came into his
room heard about the saving grace of God. The
milkman, the mailman, the delivery man, and the
neighbors all heard the praise of God fall from the lips
of this suffering saint. They could see in his life the
faith that he taught.
How else could the wicked, vile Philippian Jailer ever
have been reached with the gospel. He probably would
never have attended a preaching service. But he was
saved. Oh yes, Paul and Silas had to be stripped, whip-
ped with "many stripes" and cast into prison, before
he was saved. Two Christians went through great
suffering and humiliation. Yet, we find, "Paul and Silas
prayed, and sang praises unto God[.]" It was God that
shook the prison, it was God that saved the jailer, but
never forget that He used two suffering saints as
instruments in His hand. Read Acts 16:22-34. No
wonder Paul could say, "we glory in tribulations[.]"
Rom. 5:3. "For our light affliction, which is but for a
moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and
eternal weight of glory." II Cor. 4:17.
Out of affliction comes blessing and victory. It was a
BLIND Fanny Crosby who wrote so many of the great
hymns that we sing. It was a BLIND John Milton that
wrote "Paradise Lost" and "Paradise Regained," two
of the greatest pieces of literature in the English lan-
guage. While in the Bedford, England, jail from 1660-
1672 for preaching the gospel, John Bunyon, a Baptist
preacher, wrote "Pilgrim's Progress," one of the
greatest pieces of literature to come from an uninspired
pen. If you are suffering, cheer up, you are in good
company. Jesus suffered as no other one has every
suffered, and He has allowed some of His greatest
followers to go through great suffering and sorrow.
The Lord Does Care
It may seem at times that God does not care, but He
does. He cares more than we will ever know this side of
Heaven. "In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the
angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his
pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried
them all the days of old." Isaiah 63:9.
V. SINNERS SOMETIMES SUFFER THAT
THEY MIGHT LOOK TO JESUS
"...Blind Bartimaeus...sat by the highway side
begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of
Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son
of David, have mercy on me." Mark 10:46,47. Jesus
supplied his need. He was healed, and best of all, he
was saved. "...he...followed Jesus in the way."
Mark 10:52. "And a certain woman, which had an issue
of blood twelve years, And had suffered many things of
many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and
was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse. When
she had heard of Jesus...she said, If I may touch but
his clothes, I shall be whole." Mark 5:25-28. She was
It is not always God's will to heal the sick, but it is
always God's will to save the believing sinner.
"...him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast
out." John 6:37. The miracles of Jesus were for a sign.
These signs were given that sinners might believe.
"And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence
of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But
these are written, THAT YE MIGHT BELIEVE THAT
Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing
ye might have life through his name." John 20:30-31.
Man is so proud that he will not look to God until he is
forced to do so. On the hospital bed or in great sorrow,
he will sometimes look up and listen to God.
While sin is the indirect cause of suffering, it does
not always follow that those who are suffering are being
punished for sin. "And as Jesus passed by, he saw a
man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples
asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or
his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered,
Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but
THAT THE WORKS OF GOD should be made manifest
in him." John 9:1-3. Jesus did not mean that this man
was not a sinner, but rather that he was not blind
because of his sins. His blindness afforded Jesus the
opportunity to manifest His power. The man worship-
ped and believed. "And he said, Lord, I believe. ..."
I plead with every unsaved person who may read this
tract, look to the "Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin
of the world." Take your place as a poor lost sinner,
look to Jesus who died to save sinners, and believe on
His name to the saving of your soul. "He that believeth
on him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is
condemned already, because he hath not believed in
the name of the only begotten Son of God. He that
believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that
believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of
God abideth on him." John 3:18,36.
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