Examples of long suffering in the Bible
«I am pleased … in afflictions, in anguish» 2Cor 12,10 Paul dares to write to the converts of Corinth. The Christian is not a Stoic who sings “the majesty of human sufferings”, but a disciple of the “chief of our faith” who “in place of the joy that was proposed to him endured the cross” Heb 12,2. The Christian looks at all suffering through Jesus Christ; in Moses “who considered the reproach of Christ as a wealth superior to the treasures of Egypt” Heb 11,26 recognizes the passion of the Lord.
But what meanings does suffering in Christ have? How does affliction, so often a curse in the OT, become bliss in the NT? How can Paul “overflow with joy in all tribulations” 2Cor 7.4 8.2? Will faith be callous or exaltation sick?
I. THE SERIOUS OF SUFFERING
The Bible takes suffering seriously; He does not minimize it; he profoundly pities him and sees in him an evil that he should not have.
1. The screams of suffering.
Mourning, defeats, and calamities make a huge concert of shouts and complaints rise in Scripture. The moan in her is so frequent that it gave rise to her literary genre, lamentation. More often than not, these shouts increase to God. True, the people shout before the Pharaoh to obtain Gen 41.55 bread, and the prophets cry against the tyrants. But the slaves of Egypt shout to God Ex 2.23s, the children of Israel chant to Yahweh 14.10 Jud 3.9 and the psalms are full of these cries of affliction. This litany of suffering continues until the “great cry and even the tears” of Christ before death Heb 5,7.
2. The pronounced judgment on pain responds to this rebellion of sensibility: suffering is an evil that should not be. Of course, it is known that it is universal: «The man born of the woman has a brief life full of miseries» Job 14,1 Eclo 40,1-9, but one does not resign himself to it. It is held that wisdom and health go hand in hand Prov 3.8 4.22 14.30, that health is a benefit of God Eclo 34.20 because of which Eclo 17.17 is praised and Job 5 is asked, eight 8.5ss Salt 107.19. Various psalms are prayers of sick people who ask for healing. Salt 6 38 41 88.
The Bible is not painful; praises the doctor Eclo 38; awaits the messianic era as a time of healing Is 33.24 and resurrection 26.19 29.18 61.2. Healing is one of the works of Yahweh 19,22 57,18 and Messiah 53,4s. Is the bronze snake Num 21.6-9 not a figure of the Messiah Jn 3.14?
II. THE SCANDAL OF SUFFERING
The Bible, deeply sensitive to suffering, cannot, like so many religions around it, resort to explaining it to complaints between the different gods or dualistic solutions. It is true that for the exiles of Babylon, overwhelmed by its “immense like the sea” Lam 2,13 calamities, the temptation to believe that Yahweh had been defeated by a stronger one was very great; nevertheless, the prophets, to defend the true God, do not think about excusing it, but in maintaining that the suffering does not escape him: «I make the light, and I create the darkness, I make the happiness, and I cause the misfortune» Is 45, 7 63.3-6. The Israelite tradition will never abandon the bold principle formulated by Amos: “Is there any misfortune in a city without God being its author?” Am 3,6 Ex 8,12-28 Is 7,18. But this intransigence triggers tremendous reactions: “There is no God!” Ps 10.4 14,1 concludes the wicked before the evil of the world, or only one God “incapable of knowledge” 73,11; and Job’s wife, consequently: “Curse God!” Job 2,9.
No doubt, it is known to distinguish in suffering what some explanation entails. Natural agents can produce wounds Gen 34.25 Jos 5.8 2Sa 4.4, the old-age ailments are usual Gen 27.1 48.10. There are evil powers in the universe, hostile to man, those of curse, and Satan. Sin brings misfortune Prov 13.8 Is 3.11 Eclo 7.1, and there is a tendency to discover a fault as the source of all trouble Gen 12,17s 42,21 Jos 7,6-13: such is the conviction of the Job’s friends. As the source of the misfortune that weighs on the world, we must mention the first sin Gen 3.14-19.
However, none of these agents, neither nature, nor chance Ex 21,13, nor the fatal fecundity of sin, nor the curse Gen 3.14 2Sa 16.5 nor Satan himself subtracts from the power of God, so that God is fatally implicated. The prophets cannot understand the happiness of the wicked and the misfortune of the righteous Jer 12,1-6 Hab 1,13 3,14-18, and the persecuted righteous believe themselves to be forgotten Sal 13.2 31.13 44.10 -18. Job begins a process against God and intimates him to explain himself Job 13,22 23,7.
III. THE MYSTERY OF SUFFERING
Prophets and wise men, broken by suffering, but sustained by their faith, progressively enter “into the mystery” Ps 73.17. They discover the purifying value of pain, such as that of the fire that separates the metal from its slags Jer 9.6 Sal 65.10, its educational value, that of a paternal correction Dt 8.5 Prov 3.11s 2Par 32.26.31, and they end up seeing in the promptness of punishment an effect of divine benevolence 2Mac 6,12-17 7,31-38. They learn to accept in suffering the revelation of a divine design that confuses us Job 42,1-6 38,2. Before Job, Joseph recognized him in front of his Gen 50.20 brothers. Such a design can explain the premature death of the wise, thus preserved from sinning Sab 4.17-20. In this sense, the TA already knows a blessed one of the barren woman and the eunuch Sab 3,13s.
Suffering, included by faith in God’s design, becomes a test of high value that God reserves to the servants of whom he is proud, Abraham Gen 22, Job Job 1,11 2,5, Tobias Tob 12,13 to teach them what God is worth and what can be suffered for him. So Jeremiah goes from rebellion to a new conversion Jer 15,10-19.
Finally, suffering has the value of mediation and redemption. This value appears in the figure of Moses, in his painful prayer Ex 17,11ss Num 11,1s, and in the sacrifice, he offers of his life to save a guilty people 32,30-33. However, Moses and the prophets most tested for suffering, such as Jeremiah Jer 8,18.21 11,19 15,18, are but figures of the servant of Yahweh.
The servant knows to suffer in its most tremendous, most scandalous ways. He exerted all his ravages on him, disfigured him, to the point of not even provoking even compassion, but horror and contempt Is 52,14s 53,3; it is not an accident, a tragic moment, but its daily existence and its distinctive sign: “man of pain” 53,3; it seems that it cannot be explained except by a monstrous fault and by an exemplary punishment of the holy God 53,4. Actually, there is a lack, and of incredible proportions, but not precisely in it: in us, in all of us, 53.6. He is innocent, which is the height of the scandal.
Now, there is precisely the mystery, “the achievement of God’s design” 53,10. Innocent, “intercede for sinners” 53,12 offering God not only the supplication of the heart but “his own life in atonement” 53,10, allowing himself to be confused among sinners 53.12 to take upon himself his faults. In this way, the supreme scandal becomes the unprecedented wonder, the “revelation of the arm of Yahweh” 53,1. All the suffering and all the sin of the world have concentrated on him and, for he has charged them with obedience, he obtains peace and healing 53.5, the end of our sufferings.
I. JESUS AND THE SUFFERING OF MEN
Jesus cannot witness suffering without being deeply moved, with divine mercy Mt 9,36 14,14 15,32 Lc 7,13 15,20; if he had been there, Lazarus would not have died: Martha and Mary repeat it Jn 11,21.32, and he had implied it at twelve 11,14. But then, in the face of such an obvious emotion – “how I loved him!” – how to explain this scandal? “Couldn’t he make this man not die?” 11,36s.
1. Jesus Christ, conqueror of suffering.
Healings and resurrections are signs of his messianic mission Mt 11.4 Lc 4.18s, preludes to the final victory. In the miracles performed by the twelve, Jesus sees the defeat of Satan Lk 10,19. He fulfills the prophecy of the servant “burdened with our diseases” Is 53.4 Healing them all Mt 8,17. He gives his disciples the power to heal on his behalf Mc 15.17, and the healing of the crush of the Beautiful Gate testifies to the security of the nascent Church in this regard Act 3,1-10.
2. Jesus Christ dignifies suffering.
However, Jesus does not suppress in the world nor death, which he has come, to “reduce impotence” Heb 3.14 or suffering. While refusing to establish a systematic link between illness or accident and sin Lc 13,2ss Jn 9,3, however, let the curse of Eden bear fruit. It is that he is able to change them into joy; Jesus does not suppress suffering, but comforts him Mt 5,5; it does not suppress tears, it only cleanses some in its path Lc 7,13, in sign of the joy that will unite God and his children on the day “wipe away the tears of all faces” Is 25,8 Ap 7,17 21, Four. Suffering can be a bliss, because it prepares to embrace the kingdom, allows “to reveal the works of God” Jn 9,3, “the glory of God” and “the Son of God” 11,4.
II. THE SUFFERINGS OF THE SON OF MAN
Despite the scandal of Peter and his disciples, Jesus repeats that “the Son of Man must suffer greatly” Mc 8.31 9.31 10.33 p. Long before the passion Jesus “has familiarity with suffering” Is 53,3; he suffers because of the “incredulous and perverse” multitude Mt 17.17 as “snakes’ beasts” Mt 12,34 23,33, for being rejected by his own Jn 1,11. Cry in front of Jerusalem Lc 19,41 Mt 23,37; he is “troubled” to the memory of passion Jn 12,27. His suffering then results in a deadly affliction, and “agony,” a struggle amidst anguish and fear Mc 14,33s Lc 22,44. Passion concentrates all possible human suffering, from betrayal to abandonment by God Mt 27,46. But he decisively proves the love of Christ to his Father Jn 14,30 and his friends 15,13; it is the revelation of his glory of Son Jn 17,1 12,31s,
III. THE SUFFERINGS OF THE DISCIPLES
An illusion threatens Christians with the Easter victory: death is over, suffering is over; they are in danger of seeing their faith falter, due to the tragic realities of existence 1Tes 4,13. The resurrection does not repeal the teachings of the Gospel but confirms them. The message of the Beatitudes, the requirement of the daily cross Lk 9,23, is in full urgency in the light of the destiny of the Lord. If his mother was not spared the pain Lc 2,35, if the Master “to enter his glory” Lc 24,26 went through tribulations and persecutions, the disciples must follow the same path Jn 15,20 Mt 10, 24, and the messianic era is a time of tribulations Mt 24.8 Act 14.22 1Tim 4.1.
1. Suffer from Christ.
Just as, if the Christian lives, “it is no longer [he] who lives, but Christ lives in [him]” Gal 2,20, so also the sufferings of the Christian are “the sufferings of Christ in [him]” 2Cor 1.5 The Christian belongs to Christ by his own body and the suffering shapes with Christ Flip 3,10. Just as Christ, “with being the Son, learned obedience through his sufferings” Heb 5,8, in the same way, it is necessary that we “run into the battle that is offered to us, set eyes on the author and finisher of our faith … who endured the cross »Heb 12,1s. Christ, who became supportive of those who suffer, leaves the same law to his own 1Cor 12.26 Rom 12.15 2Cor 1.7.
2. To be glorified with Christ.
If “we suffer with him,” it is “to be also glorified with him” Rom 8,17; “If we carry in our body always and everywhere the sufferings of death of Jesus”, it is “so that the life of Jesus may manifest in our body” 2Cor 4,10. «The favor of God granted to us is not only to believe in Christ but to suffer for him» Flip 1,29. From suffering suffered from Christ, not only “the eternal weight of glory prepared above all measure” is born 2Cor 4.17 beyond death, but also, from now on, joy. Joy of the apostles who make their first experience in Jerusalem and discover “the joy of being judged worthy to suffer outrages by name” Act 5,41; Peter’s call to the joy of “participating in the sufferings of Christ” to know the presence of the “Spirit of God, of the Spirit of glory” 1Pe 4,13s;Four.