Sample donated: Tonya Morgan
Last updated: November 16, 2019
Christianity teaches us that the main cause of almost all suffering, including hunger and disease, is injustice. This occurs when people fail to respect each other, and can happen as a result of prejudice, which can lead to discrimination. An example of discrimination would be the parable of the Good Samaritan, which certain individuals ignore a wounded man in the street, because they think that he is inferior to themselves, because of his race. In the bible it tells us how important it is to love one another, for example”For he that loveth his neighbour, hath fulfilled the law”. Here it is telling us that the command to love our neighbour fulfils the whole law.
Wealth is another cause of hunger and disease, when for example, a rich man thinks himself to be superior to the poor man. God sees all people as equal in his sight, and so obviously it is going against God’s will. In the bible it states how”There in neither Jew, nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”. Jesus told us to “Love your neighbour as you love yourself”, but unfortunately it is human nature to commit sin, and we end up going against Gods will, without realising it.Another cause of Hunger and disease is the distribution of wealth, be it local or international scale. Timothy 6:9-10 says, “You cannot be the slave of both God and money.”.
Many of the less developed countries have uneven distributions of wealth, leading to poverty-stricken masses and very wealthy minorities. Approximately 20% of the world’s population have insufficient food supply. Ironically, while the poorer people, of the world are starving to death, the richer people are more concerned about losing weight, and worrying about eating too much food! Also the lack of wealth can lead to unhygienic and deteriorated living conditions, which is a perfect environment, for disease to spread.War is another factor that can hold back development, leading to poor living conditions and destruction of crops, which also results in hunger and disease. The large majority of the world’s wealth is pent on weapons for the military, whilst only a tiny percentage of that gigantic sum would be enough to solve world hunger forever. Debt is another significant factor that has led to the deterioration of many developing countries. Matt 6:12 says,”forgive our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors”, which suggests that not forgiving a debt would be sin.
Also, in Leviticus Chapter 25, God required Israel to forgive all debts owed, which is an example of God’s forgiveness, which Christians had ought to follow. The fact that banks in developed countries charges massive amounts of interest on loans taken out by less developed countries, is another example of injustice and greed. Luke 12:15 clearly shows us that greed is a sin, when it says “watch out and guard yourself from all types of greed; because one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions”.Natural disasters are a more natural factor that can account for destruction of crops, and villages in some countries, which literally cripples a countries economy, especially if they are already in dept. Although natural disasters are not generally caused by humanity, we are still not entirely without blame. It has already proved that the massive amounts of waste gases that we release into the atmosphere have lead to adverse weather conditions, and global warming. Gases released from factories in the UK have poisoned many lakes in Scandinavia, killing millions of fish and leaving permanent scars on the environment. In April 1986 Chernobyl’s nuclear reactor number 4, exploded, spreading deadly radiation over a massive area.
To this day, there are still people suffering from radiation related diseases as a result of this event in countries as far away as Italy; this is one disaster that we cannot blame on God.In the parable of the sheep and the goats, Jesus accused people of ignoring him in his time of need, to which they said “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister you?”,Jesus replied “Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.” He was highlighting the fact that ignoring the needs of a suffering person is as great a sin as inflicting the suffering on them yourself. Ignoring the problem is another major cause of suffering, and it can lead to a problem starting when nothing is done about it-take the current situation in Afghanistan for example.
At the Second Vatican Council, the catholic Bishops said, “Feed the man dying of hunger, because if you do not feed him, you are killing him”, which again supports the idea that turning a blind eye to the poor is a great a sin as any.To look at the causes of suffering from a more simple approach, we can say that almost all suffering is caused by what we do, or fail to do. It is humanity’s own greed that loses all our worldly resources, and leads to so much suffering. The alarming increase in many diseases, such as cancer and asthma, are the direct result of our contamination of the environment e.g. poisoning Scandinavian lakes, Chernobyl disaster etc. God must not be seen as a scapegoat for our sins.
Ad president Kennedy once said, “Here on earth God’s work must truly be our own”Far from wanting people to suffer, God sent Jesus to lead us out of suffering. For example, rigorous training causes athletes pain, but they accept their ‘suffering’ as the best way to condition their bodies, and in the same way Christian must accept their suffering as the best way to holiness.Unfortunately many people are under the impression that it is God’s will for us to suffer. Mark 1:32-24 says that evil is a very real force in this world, a force not of God’s making. Jesus never punished anyone with sickness or hunger-instead he healed.
Romans 8:28 tells us that in everything God works for good with those who love him. Another common misapprehension is that suffering is a direct result of sin- a belief that Jesus challenged. John 9:13 says ‘As Jesus walked along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, was it his sin or that of his parents that caused him to be blind?”, “neither”, answered Jesus, “It was no sin, either of this man or of his parents.
Rather it was to let God’s work show forth in him”‘Jesus wanted us to understand that suffering, far from being God’s punishment, is an occasion for God’s love to be demonstrated. When Christians provide help and support to those who are hungry and suffering, they can transform suffering into a living example of God’s love.