4 Types of Suffering


If there really is a God, people wonder, why has He allowed so much suffering in the world? What are the types of suffering in a christian’s life?

Many Christians honestly struggle with that same question. Only by turning to the Bible can we begin to understand the problem of suffering in this life.


Basically, there are four types of suffering.

The first type is that which comes as the result of natural disasters, such as an earthquake or a hurricane. The suffering that results from these disasters happens to both the righteous and unrighteous (Matthew 5:45).

A second type of suffering can be called man’s inhumanity to man. War would be classified under this type of suffering. Because of humanity’s greed and pride, people try to hurt other people (James 4:1-2).

A third type of suffering is best seen in the life of Job in the Old Testament; it came as a result of Satan’s attack on him. After receiving permission from God, Satan moved in and caused incredible suffering to Job and his family.

A fourth type of suffering is that which comes as a result of our own erroneous actions. For example, if I walk off the roof of my office and fall to the ground, breaking my leg, I am suffering because I broke God’s law of gravity. We also suffer when we break God’s moral laws.


Much suffering can be traced to the evil choices we make. Some, but not all, suffering is allowed by God as a punishment for sin. Often God simply forces us to live with the consequences of our actions (Galatians 6:7-8).

Whenever people break God’s laws, others are bound to suffer as well. I refer you to the story of Achan in Joshua 7. When he coveted and took some of the spoil from the battle of Jericho, Achan cost the lives of thirty-six men in battle against Ai. It is inevitable that others will suffer in the wake of an individual’s disobedience.

How we respond to suffering–whether or not we brought it on ourselves–is going to make us or break us as Christian pilgrims. Circumstances often do more to reveal our character than to shape it. But by properly responding to trials, we can develop patience and proven character (Romans 5:3-4).

Problems, stress, calamity, or the death of a loved one often cause us to search ourselves for any sin in our lives (see 1 Kings 17:18). Pain plants the flag of truth in a heavy heart. But we must be cautious not to let Satan overwhelm us with excessive and false guilt or grief (2 Corinthians 2:7). Job’s wife told him to curse God and die. He refused to give up and remained faithful to the Lord. Notice that in the end God gave him all he had before and even more (Job 42:10-17).

Instead of looking at our circumstances, we need to keep our eyes on Jesus Christ, the source of life. He will bring us through whatever situation we face, and as a result we will be stronger Christians, better able to serve Him because of our trials.

In a day of pessimism and suffering we can say with the psalmist, “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6). The Lord Himself, as the great Sufferer, is our comfort and hope in troubled times.

To Ponder : To what degree have you experienced the first kind of suffering described above? The second? The third? The fourth? Are you currently going through a trial? What kind of trial is it? What has been your response so far?

To Pursue : Meditate on Psalm 118:6 and Hebrews 13:5-6, verses which have been an encouragement to me and to many others during times of trial.

Beleive in HIM. Trust HIM. You will pass all these types of sufferings in joy.

4 thoughts on “4 Types of Suffering”

  1. Is there a copyright on the above picture
    “Suffering and the God of Love”

    Could we use it on a brochure to advertise
    a series of lessons on Human Suffering?

  2. all of religion is wrong
    you are all blind.
    you belive that: ‘a magic man that nobody can see made the entire world’ ITS A FUCKING CHILDS STORY!
    how can you dissagree with the conclusive proof of theories such as evolution?
    (and before you tell me that ‘its just a theory’, gravity is a theory, theorys can be proven, as evolution has been)
    And what proof do you have?
    all you have is faith, THATS NOTHING against solid proof and evidence.

  3. To the person who repudiates Christianity and religion with foul language and to anyone who may be influenced by his or her venom:

    It takes more “blind” faith to reject God than to accept him. Here are a few things you must believe to accept that purely random, unguided processes resulted in the universe and life:
    1. There are dozens of constants (e.g., Boltzman’s, Planck’s, gravitational, speed of light, etc.) that must be precisely what they are (to within one part in millions) for life and universe to exist as they do. You must believe that these constants are purely random, which makes the probability of the existence of this universe to be smaller than 1 part in 10^500 (that’s more atoms than there are in the universe and more seconds than have elapsed in 13.7 billion years). Or you can accept with blind faith that there simply more than 10^500 parallel universes which actualize all the possibilities (“multiverse” theory) like Stephen Hawking.
    2. You have to believe that life came from non-life, which is something that has never been observed to happen (which makes it non-scientific and requires blind faith).
    3. You have to believe that information comes from random non-information (something which can be proven mathematically to be impossible, so it requires not only blind faith, but even requires irrational faith).
    4. You have to believe that intelligence comes from non-intelligence (never observed scientifically).
    5. You have to believe that highly ordered and organized energy came from highly random, disorganized energy (consistent reduction in entropy, which violates strongly established scientific principles).
    6. You have to believe that highly ordered and organized matter came from high random, disorganized matter-energy, like seeing the cream that’s been mixed into a cup of coffee suddenly remove itself from the coffee and return to the cream pitcher (never observed scientifically).

    I can’t prove to you that God exists, but I can say that the heavens declare the glory of God and that faith in God isn’t blind. The faith of the atheist in rejecting God is blind faith. “The fool says in his heart ‘there is no God.'”

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