Avoiding Unnecessary Suffering

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Avoiding Unnecessary Suffering

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Avoiding suffering can also involve following sound principles of mental, emotional and physical health. Such principles are based on the Ten Commandments and can be found throughout the Bible.

Does the Bible caution us not to bring suffering on ourselves by sinning?

“But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters” (1 Peter 4:15 1 Peter 4:15But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.
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).

What happens to those who ignore this advice?

“Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD, they would have none of my counsel and despised my every rebuke. Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, and be filled to the full with their own fancies. For the turning away of the simple will slay them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them” (Proverbs 1:29-32 Proverbs 1:29-32 29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: 30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. 31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. 32 For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.
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).

We read of many examples of suffering we can bring on ourselves simply by ignoring the basic wisdom in God’s Word. For instance: “A man of great wrath will suffer punishment; for if you rescue him, you will have to do it again” (Proverbs 19:19 Proverbs 19:19A man of great wrath shall suffer punishment: for if you deliver him, yet you must do it again.
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). Also: “Laziness casts one into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger” (Proverbs 19:15 Proverbs 19:15Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger.
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).

Financial problems are frequently the result of assuming legal responsibility for the debts of others: “He who is surety for a stranger will suffer, but one who hates being surety is secure” (Proverbs 11:15 Proverbs 11:15He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it: and he that hates indebtedness is sure.
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).

Accidents and carelessness contribute heavily to people’s suffering. Some occupations and activities are inherently more dangerous than others. “He who quarries stones may be hurt by them, and he who splits wood may be endangered by it” (Ecclesiastes 10:9 Ecclesiastes 10:9Whoever removes stones shall be hurt therewith; and he that splits wood shall be endangered thereby.
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).

Disease, of course, is another major cause of suffering. The reasons for illnesses are too numerous to list. However, God promised the ancient Israelites that, if they diligently observed His instructions, which included dietary, sanitation and agricultural laws, He would not afflict them with the diseases He had brought on the Egyptians (Exodus 15:26 Exodus 15:26And said, If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and will do that which is right in his sight, and will give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases on you, which I have brought on the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that heals you.
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). He warned them, however, that ignoring His guidance would result in sickness and disease (Deuteronomy 28:58-61 Deuteronomy 28:58-61 58 If you will not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD; 59 Then the LORD will make your plagues wonderful, and the plagues of your seed, even great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore sicknesses, and of long continuance. 60 Moreover he will bring on you all the diseases of Egypt, which you were afraid of; and they shall stick to you. 61 Also every sickness, and every plague, which is not written in the book of this law, them will the LORD bring on you, until you be destroyed.
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).

Controlling disease, then, can relate to whether we listen to God’s advice and follow it.

By observing such simple principles as prevention, caution, good diet and sanitation, we can individually reduce a great deal of the suffering that comes from diseases. But it will take entire communities—even nations—working together to clean up our surroundings and restore sound principles of agriculture, air quality, food processing and other health-related needs to bring humanity to excellent health. Many of these necessary steps will have to wait until Christ rules the earth in His Kingdom.

Prolonged and obsessive guilt is often a major, but preventable, cause of emotional agony. Some guilt is natural and good. But guilt should lead to repentance, which is the remedy for it (2 Corinthians 7:10 2 Corinthians 7:10For godly sorrow works repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world works death.
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). God is merciful. The solution is to go to God, in a repentant attitude, for the grace and forgiveness He promises.

We read that even “a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again” (Proverbs 24:16 Proverbs 24:16For a just man falls seven times, and rises up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.
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). We need to seek God’s mercy regularly and frequently. As God has promised us, “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be [white] as wool . . .” (Isaiah 1:18-19 Isaiah 1:18-19 18 Come now, and let us reason together, said the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. 19 If you be willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land:
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).

. These examples only scratch the surface of the preventable and unnecessary suffering we can bring on ourselves. They also show why we need a balanced understanding of the causes of suffering. Much human suffering could easily be avoided through proper knowledge, understanding, wisdom and obedience.

Where can we find practical instruction on how to avoid unnecessary suffering?

“The proverbs of Solomon . . .: To know . . . wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion . . . And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel” (Proverbs 1:1-5 Proverbs 1:1-5 1 The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; 2 To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; 3 To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; 4 To give subtlety to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. 5 A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain to wise counsels:
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).

We should not neglect the book of Proverbs when we seek practical help in understanding principles of sound thinking and living. It can assist us in vastly improving our human relationships and our Christian living. So much of our suffering and unhappiness stems from mishandling our day-to-day encounters with each other. We often lack diplomacy. We need the wisdom of God in dealing with our fellow human beings.

Even though we bring much suffering on ourselves, God’s preference is that we experience just the opposite. To believe that God would take some kind of perverted pleasure in human suffering is to misunderstand His character entirely. He takes no delight in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11 Ezekiel 33:11Say to them, As I live, said the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn you, turn you from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?
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). He often postpones punishment in hopes of repentance (2 Peter 3:9 2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
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). He wants the whole human family to achieve salvation in His Kingdom (1 Timothy 2:4 1 Timothy 2:4Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
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). He does not prefer that we suffer.