In many cases when we suffer we do not know the reason why. Sometimes God reveals the purpose of our suffering at a later time and sometimes He never lets us know why we had to suffer. But by reading the Scriptures, we can glean some general reasons for human suffering. Suffering is always at variance with our human will and desire. If we had a choice, we would never willingly choose to suffer. But when we do suffer, it is comforting at least to know the reason why. Knowing why adds a measure of comfort and gives us a tolerance or patience during the period of suffering which helps to ease the pain. Generally speaking, all suffering can be traced directly to the sin problem in the human race. Consider the following verse from Romans 5:12: Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.
The manifold reason for the universal suffering of the human race can be traced back to the Fall of the original progenitors of the race, Adam and Eve, when they sinned in the Garden of Eden. Sorrow is a result of the curse that was placed upon the human race because of sin. Sin always brings sorrow and the greatest sorrow of sin is death, both spiritual and physical. Death is usually preceded by sickness. Therefore, sickness is a result of sin, not necessarily our own sin, but of the curse of the original sin that the race inherited. Genesis 3:16 and 17 explains how this curse came about. “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.”
The Fall occurred through an element of deception and an element of self-will. Therefore, many if not all of the troubles, sorrows, and sufferings of the human race can be traced in some measure back to these two elements. We can conclude then, that all suffering came about because of sin.
This does not mean that we are suffering because we committed some sin, but rather if there had never been any sin in the world to begin with, there would not be any suffering. Sin is a rebellion of God’s Word. All who believe on Christ will eventually be lifted out of this world of suffering to a heavenly place where suffering cannot enter and the concept is foreign. Until then we are subject to suffer either directly or indirectly and our suffering will either help us on our road to heaven or it will hinder us, depending on our attitude and response to it.