The Bible has a lot to say about suffering. I think we can all quote or reference any number of passages that speak to the suffering we face in life. We all know the story of Job. We’ve probably memorized Romans 8.28. We might even have a list of go-to passages that give us hope and encouragement when we are going through a trial.
And certainly there is a lot of hope to find in such passages and for good reason. When I am going through a season of suffering, I often find encouragement in passages like Isaiah 43.1, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine” or the glorious truth in Romans 8 that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ. I often turn to passages like that in James 1 to remind myself that God is doing something important through my trials, important and eternal work.
But more than turning to specific verses when we are suffering, it’s also important to turn to The Story. The main story of Scripture is one I turn to over and over to help me understand the place of suffering in my life.
Because, to be honest, my first question is always, “Why?” And that is quickly followed by, “How long?” And then I want to know, “Will I make it? Will I survive this?”
That’s why I turn to The Story.
THE STORY: CREATION, FALL, REDEMPTION, AND RESTORATION
The story of Creation tells me how God created the world and what it was like. It was a place of perfect harmony and peace. Everything worked as it should. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, lived in right relationship with their Maker and with one another. They found joy in their work together. They communicated without conflict. They were completely one with each other and had no barriers between them.
Then the Fall happened. They listened to and believed Satan’s lies. They desired to be like God and ate the fruit he had instructed them not to eat. Their eyes were opened and sin entered the world. They felt shame and covered themselves. And we’ve done the same ever since. We’ve inherited their sin nature and spend our lives hiding and covering. God then gave them the consequences due for their sin and they were expelled from the garden. But before Adam and Eve left, God gave them this promise “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Gen 3.15).