This past Sunday I preached on the role of suffering in the Christian life. I looked at the part suffering played in the life of Christ, particularly in light of Hebrews 5:7-9 and then asked how can we follow in the footsteps of our Lord and learn obedience during our suffering. In a couple of conversations afterward I could see the need to distinguish between different types of suffering. Not all suffering and pain is the same or comes from the same source. Here are the different types of suffering. Of course, these are not distinct boxes. Sometimes they do overlap, except for the first, which is entirely unique.
Suffering that Atones for Sin
This refers to the once for all sacrifice of Christ upon the cross where he bore in his body the sins of His people and the wrath of God. This cannot be duplicated or supplemented by anyone else.
This refers to the suffering all humans go through simply by being part of a fallen world. Sickness, emotional pain, discouragement, sadness, flat tires, stubbed toes, pain in pregnancy, hard days at work, and such are things all humans experience. Of course, not all go through the same types of suffering or suffer to the same degree, but these are common. You will suffer these types of things on a regular basis. Usually, this has nothing to do with the sin of the individual. Continue reading