Back to Main Menu
Session 1a Session 1b
Session 2a Session 2b
Session 3a Session 3b
Session 4a Session 4b
Session 5a Session 5b
Session 6a Session 6b
Session 7a Session 7b
Session 8a Session 8b
Session 9a Session 9b
Session 10a Session 10b
Session 11a Session 11b
Session 12a Session 12b
Bible Books Summary

Session 12: Section 2

The problem of suffering

We are including this section for a very important reason. The problem of suffering is a difficulty for many people. We would like to lead you to some Bible principles and passages that can help.

If you are tempted to ask, "Why doesnít God stop all this evil going on in the world?", remember that if He stopped other people doing what they want, He might also stop you doing what you want. God wants people to obey Him out of choice, not by compulsion. God could have created a race of robots if unthinking obedience was all that He wanted.

We see, right at the beginning of things, that God gave a command which He wanted to be obeyed.

Open Bible

Read Genesis 2 v 16 to 18

Having been given total freedom of choice, Adam and Eve chose to challenge Godís authority and they disobeyed. God then had to do something in response.

Open Bible

Read Genesis 3 v 16 to 19

Suffering and death are a result of rebellion against God.

We all follow Adam and Eveís example in generally wanting our own way rather than Godís.

Open Bible

Read Jeremiah 17 v 9
and Mark 7 v 20 to 23

Suffering arises out of Godís response to sin. Some people find it difficult to accept that God causes evil things to happen. As we saw in Genesis 3 verses 17 and 18, the adverse conditions in agriculture were brought about by God.

God was instrumental in bringing disaster on Egypt in the time of Moses:

Open Bible

Read Exodus 10 v 13 to 19

God brought problems to the prophet Jonah:

Open Bible

Read Jonah 1 v 4

Job, an early Old Testament character, realised that God sometimes brought problems and suffering into peopleís lives:

Open Bible

Read Job 1 v 21 and 2 v 10

But there is nothing in the Bible to suggest that when suffering occurs it is always attributable to a particular act by the sufferer. On one occasion Jesus was asked whether a man was born blind as a result of sin.

Open Bible

Read John 9 v 1 to 3

There is a similar example recorded in Lukeís Gospel:

Open Bible

Read Luke 13 v 1 to 5

In this instance Jesus was saying that suffering was a reminder that everyone will eventually die. At that stage it will not matter whether we have lived to ninety-five in luxury, or died at fifteen in poverty. It will be our relationship to God that will then matter.

Suffering need not be regarded as all negative. God can use suffering as part of His remedy for the rebellion against His authority. Suffering can often "stop us in our tracks" in life and make us think, more than we normally do, what life is all about.

Open Bible

Read Hebrews 12 v 7 to 11

This verse also shows that suffering helps our characters to mature and become more like Godís. If we will allow it, it prepares us for the time when there will be no more suffering.

Open Bible

Read Revelation 21 v 4

The apostle Paul reminds his readers that problems are to be expected if they try to live a Godly life:

Open Bible

Read Acts 14 v 22


  • God asks us to choose to obey Him.
  • Disobedience to God is the cause of suffering.
  • God uses suffering to remind people of their rebellious nature.
  • There is not necessarily a link between particular sins and particular sufferings.
  • God uses suffering to help people develop God-like characters.

Reading the Bible effectively

As you have now reached the end of this course it may be helpful to remind you of what you have learned about effective Bible reading.

Basic Bible study skills


  • Allow time
  • Be comfortable
  • Select a good translation

How to read

  • Aloud
  • Listen for "echoes"
  • Ask yourself questions

When you donít understand

  • Be patient
  • Look at cross-references
  • Use concordances and lexicons
  • Use other translations

Principles and helps for effective Bible reading

Session 1

  • The Bible is Godís message for us, giving real hope for the future
  • It gives direction for living, and ignoring its message can be fatal

Session 2

  • Genesis is the foundation of the rest of the Bible
  • We cannot hope to understand the New Testament without the Old Testament

Session 3

  • God has made agreements which are the basis of His plan with mankind
  • Prophecy is given to help us put our trust in God

Session 4

  • When we read the Bible, we must let it teach us
  • Genesis to Judges overview showed us the early development of the Jews

Session 5

  • How concordances can help us understand words used in the Bible
  • A look at some words that are sometimes misunderstood

Session 6

  • Overview of the period when kings ruled over the Jewish nation
  • A look at some more Bible words

Session 7

  • How cross-references can help us find "echoes"
  • Evidence which shows that the Bible cannot be of human origin

Session 8

  • Godís real purpose in creating the earth
  • Overview of the Jewish nation from the kings up to the time of Christ

Session 9

  • The differences between the various Bible translations
  • A look at some more Bible words

Session 10

  • The place of the Jews in Godís plan
  • The balance of Godís mercy and judgement

Session 11

  • Motivation to read the Bible
  • Overview of the New Testament period

Session 12

  • A final look at some Bible words that can be misunderstood
  • A few Bible passages that help when considering suffering

We hope that you are now better equipped to understand the Bible for yourself than you were when you started the course. All these topics are designed to let the Bible speak for itself and give you its message, which we believe is of vital importance to us all. As it talks of matters relating to our life and death it is crucial that we understand what it is telling us.


We hope that this course has helped you to read your Bible more effectively.

Please e-mail us if you wish to discuss anything relating to either this course or any Bible-related topic or if you have any specific topic you would like to study.

We hope, God willing, to produce other Distance Learning Courses based on other seminars held in various centres around Britain. The aim of these courses will be to help you to understand various books of the Bible, building on the information from this course. Please e-mail us if you would like details of these Distance Learning Courses as they become available.

Finally, remember that the Bible contains Godís plan for us. Life is to be found in the Bible, and we have attempted to put you on the path to obtaining it. As you move forward, you have a choice: endless life or endless death. We encourage you to choose life, for both you and your family.


Back to Main Menu